Cutaneous manifestations of vasculitis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Apr;38(5):348-60. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2008.01.007. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Objectives: To discuss the clinical features, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment options for cutaneous vasculitis.

Methods: The literature in the PubMed database was reviewed regarding the presentation, pathophysiology, clinical workup, and treatment of cutaneous vasculitis.

Results: Available classification criteria of vasculitis are based on histopathologic criteria or clinicohistologic features. These have been designed more for research purposes than for clinical application. Skin findings such as palpable purpura, nodules, urticaria, ulcers, and infarction are clues to the presence of vasculitis. Pathologic findings of fibrinoid necrosis, infiltration by neutrophils or lymphocytes, and deposition of complement and immunoglobulin may be helpful in reaching a specific diagnosis. However, there is considerable overlap across different conditions.

Conclusions: The correct diagnosis of cutaneous manifestations of vasculitis requires an understanding of vasculitis classification, recognition of specific clinical patterns, and the ability to interpret histopathologic data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Skin Diseases, Vascular* / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Vascular* / physiopathology
  • Skin Diseases, Vascular* / therapy
  • Vasculitis* / diagnosis
  • Vasculitis* / physiopathology
  • Vasculitis* / therapy