Background: Hydroa vaccinniforme is a highly uncommon photodermatosis acquired in childhood. The clinical course is dominated by the risk of varioliform scars. Numerous treatments have been proposed with variable efficacy. One recent open study suggested dietary fish oil could be useful. We report a case of hydroa vacciniforme treated successfully with dietary fish oil (Maxepa(R)).
Case report: A 15-year-old girl consulted in May 1988 for vesiculobullous lesions typical of hydroa vacciniforme in photo-exposed areas. Anti-malaria drugs and photoprotection had been used for several years without success. Maxepa(R) was introduced in June 1998 and was followed by regression of the lesions within a few weeks despite the summer season. The treatment was interrupted at the patient's request due to fetid breath. Reintroduction of Maxepa(R) in April 1999 after an episode of recurrent lesions, again led to total resolution of the lesions within three weeks.
Discussion: Hydroa vacciniforme is an exceptional photodermatosis of uncertain etiology. It may possibly be related to an abnormal sensitivity to ultraviolet A. Fish oil rich in 3-omega polyunsaturated fatty acids would reduce the local inflammation triggered by sun exposure. Recent studies have demonstrated that dietary fish oil can increase the level of 3-omega polyunsaturated fatty acids in the epidermis and reduce the level of prostaglandins in the skin. Our case would appear to confirm the contribution of dietary fish oil to treatment despite the poor tolerance due to fetid breath.