Lupus erythematosus tumidus L93.2

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 01.08.2023

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LET; lupus erythematosus tumidus; Lupus vulgaris tumidus et hypertrophicus; TLE

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Hoffmann, 1909; Gougerot and Burnier, 1930

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Characterized by indurated, surface-smooth, red papules and plaques, non-scarring (from lat tumidus: puffy) variant of cutaneous lupus erythematosus, without significant epidermal component such as scaling or follicular hyperkeratosis. There are smooth transitions to lupus erythematosus profundus. Clinically prominent is a high photosensitivity.

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Occurs in about 15% of cases of cutaneous lupus erythematosus.

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Especially in young adulthood. Age peak: 30th-40th LJ. Less common in children. No sex preference.

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Preferably on the face; neck, décolleté, arms, shoulders may also be affected.

Clinical features
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At light-exposed sites, localized or also disseminated, chronically stationary, 0.5-5.0 cm large, red, mostly non-hypersensitive, sharply defined succulent papules and plaques with smooth, shiny, non-scalying surface, without follicular hyperkeratoses, which can heal without scarring after months of progression. Deterioration after exposure to the sun.

Confluence may lead to the formation of annular or gyrated marginal plaques (differentiation from the annular type of subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus).

Scarred healing is not observed (no follicular atrophy, no de- or hyperpigmentation).

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Positive (mostly low titre max. 1:320) ANA are found in about 10-20% (Rodriguez -Caruncho et al. 2015) of cases, anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB anti-cardiolipin AK in 5%, positive in 10%. CRP elevated in about 30% of patients, C3 decreased in about 30%.

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In the middle and deep dermis, occasionally also in the adjacent subcutis, there are patchy, sometimes also nodular, perivascular or periadnexal, predominantly monomorphic, lymphoid cell infiltrates, with small round lymphocytes with homogeneous chromatin-dense nuclei predominating. Few plasma cells. Germinal centers may occur but are the rarity. No significant or only very slight epidermotropy (vacuolar degeneration of the basal cell layer is always absent!) or adnexotropy. Marked subepidermal edema as well as focal mucin deposits.

Direct Immunofluorescence
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At the dermo-epidermal junction zone and also around the follicles in most cases no specific fluorescence phenomena are detectable! Also in the UV-provoked lesions no specific fluorescence phenomena are visible.

Differential diagnosis
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Clinically as well as histopathologically a differentiation from the following diseases is necessary:

polymorphous light dermatosis (PLD)

lymphocytic infiltration

Pseudolymphoma of the skin

granuloma anulare

REM syndrome

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According to the lupus erythematodes chronicus discoides.

The treatment with topical glucocorticoids as well as the application of sun protection preparations with a high light protection factor leads in individual cases to a complete regression of the symptoms.

Alternative: The good response to a local therapy with tacrolimus has been proven in pilot studies.

General therapy
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Avoid direct exposure to the sun.

Internal therapy
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Therapy with chloroquine (3.5-4.0 mg/kg bw/day p.o.) or hydroxychloroquine (6.0-6.5 mg/kg bw/day p.o.) is very effective. Among them high rates of improvement (> 90%). Cave! Smoking significantly reduces the response rate of antimalarials.

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Favorable. Systemic involvement or transition to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has not been observed.

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lupus erythematosus tumidus

REM syndrome

Lymphocytic infiltration of the skin

Lupus erythematosus, subacute cutaneous


Mucin deposits

usually not available; varying degrees of intensity

abundantly available



Vacuolar degeneration of the basal cell line

not available

mostly non-existent or very little pronounced

not available


Direct Immunofluorescence


Mostly negative, rarely IgM, IgA, C3-precipitation at the dermatoepidermal junction zone.


Negative in 40-50% of cases; in affected skin detection of IgG, IgM, IgA, C1 and C3 (= positive lupus band test), unaffected skin negative.


Mainly in young adulthood, age peak 30 - 40 LJ; less often in children.

Particularly in young adulthood, ratio of women to men 2:1.

Especially in male adults < 50 years.

Mainly middle-aged adults, more often among women.


Areas exposed to light: face preferred; also neck, décolleté, arms, shoulders.

Mainly middle of chest and/or back, more rarely also upper abdomen, elbows and face.

Areas exposed to light: Mainly face (forehead, cheeks), neck, throat.

Areas exposed to light: face, with the centre of the face rather recessed, upper thorax, arms.


Sharply defined, disseminated, 5 mm to 3-5 cm large, red, usually not (!) hypersensitive papules and plaques with smooth, shiny, non-scalying surface, which heal without scarring. Pronounced photosensitivity (anamnestically in about 50% of cases, after photo provocation in > 70% of cases)

Reticular to planar, sharply defined, irregularly configured, light red, rarely brownish, possibly slightly urticarial erythema and papules. Occasional itching. About 30% of patients exacerbate after sun exposure.

Mostly several, often symmetrically localized, initially small papules, sharply defined, reddish or brownish-red, pad-like raised, coarse, occasionally circulatory infiltrates without epidermal involvement. No mutilations.

Sharply defined, coin-sized, scaly, infiltrated erythema. Centrally firmly adherent scales with pointed conical horny cones located in the follicle openings on the underside (wallpaper nail phenomenon, drawing nail phenomenon). Centrally beginning, atrophic regression with atrophy of the horn support and the follicle ostia, depigmentation or hyperpigmentation, telangiectasia, rarely also mutilation. Minor visceral infestation is possible, including polyarthritis, serositis, rarely renal or cerebrovascular diseases.

Test site

Shoulder and upper back

Test Fields

5 x 8 cm

Radiation sources

UV-A: Metal halide lamps (340-400 nm)

UV-B: Fluorescent lamp (Philips TL 12, 285-350 nm)

Radiation doses

UV-A: 3-4 x 60-100 J/cm2

UV-B: 3-4 x 1.5 times MED


24, 28, 72 hours and 1, 2, 3 weeks after radiation

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One of the main criteria for lupus erythematosus tumidus is marked photosensitivity, which is present anamnestically in 50% of cases and detectable in more than 70% of patients with photoprovocation testing. Photoprovocation by UVA and/or UVB.

"Tumidus" means "bloated, distended" and refers to voluminous foci of cutaneous LE.

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  1. Alexiades-Armenakas MR et al (2003) Tumid lupus erythematosus: criteria for classification with immunohistochemical analysis. Arthritis Rheum. 49: 494-500
  2. Böckle BC et al. (2015) Smoking is highly associated with discoid lupus erythematosus and lupus erythematosus tumidus: analysis of 405 patients. Lupus 24:669-674
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  5. Hinz T et al (2013) Lupus tumidus following the lines of Blaschko. Int J Dermatol 52:1615-1617
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  12. Pona A et al (2022) Lupus erythematosus tumidus Clinical Characteristics and Treatment: A Retrospective Review of 25 Patients. Cutis 109: 330-332.

  13. Rémy-Leroux V et al (2008) Comparison of histopathologic-clinical characteristics of Jessner's lymphocytic infiltration of the skin and lupus erythematosus tumidus: Multicenter study of 46 cases. J Am Acad Dermatol 58: 217-223.
  14. Rodriguez-Caruncho C et al (2015) Lupus erythematosus tumidus: a clinical and histological study of 25 cases. Lupus 24:751-755
  15. Sonntag M et al (2003) Lupus erythematosus tumidus in childhood. Report of 3 patients. Dermatology 207: 188-192
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Last updated on: 01.08.2023