Eosinophilic pustular folliculitis: a comprehensive review of treatment options

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2004;5(3):189-97. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200405030-00007.


Eosinophilic pustular folliculitis (EPF), also known as Ofuji disease, is a disease that manifests with follicular papules or pustules. Its variants include a classic type that occurs most commonly in Japan, an HIV-associated type, an infantile type, a type that occurs on the palms and soles, a rare medication-associated variant, and a rare neoplasia-associated variant.A wide range of medications has been used to treat EPF. Topical corticosteroids are the first-line treatment option for EPF. Topical tacrolimus seems to be useful initial therapy as well. Oral indometacin (50-75 mg/day) is an effective treatment of classic EPF although it can induce peptic ulcers. For treatment of HIV-associated EPF when topical corticosteroids and indometacin do not work, various other treatments should be considered. These treatment options include cetirizine 20-40 mg/day, metronidazole 250 mg three times a day, itraconazole starting at a dosage of 200 mg/day and increasing to 300-400 mg/day, and topical permethrin. If these treatments do not work phototherapy with UVB is the 'gold standard' of treatment and is often curative. Treatments with less certain risk-benefit ratios but with some efficacy include PUVA (psoralen + UVA) photochemotherapy, oral corticosteroids, synthetic retinoids (i.e. isotretinoin 1 mg/kg/day), and acitretin (0.5 mg/kg/day), oral cyclosporine (ciclosporine) 5 mg/kg/day, interferon (IFN)-alpha-2b, and IFNgamma. Minocycline 100mg twice daily and dapsone 50-100mg twice daily have been used with some effect. The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV has resulted in the amelioration of EPF as CD4 cell counts rise above 250/mm(3). The diversity of clinical presentations and affected populations make it seem that EPF is a reaction pattern as much as a disease and that therapy should be tailored to the variant of EPF and the underlying etiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eosinophilia*
  • Folliculitis / complications
  • Folliculitis / diagnosis
  • Folliculitis / drug therapy*
  • Folliculitis / therapy
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans