Superficial lymphangitis after arthropod bite: a distinctive but underrecognized entity?

Dermatology. 2008;217(3):262-7. doi: 10.1159/000149822. Epub 2008 Aug 6.


Background: Acute bacterial lymphangitis is a common occurrence after skin damage. This diagnosis is often made in case of red linear streaks after arthropod bites, leading to the prescription of oral antibiotics. In this setting, noninfectious superficial lymphangitis after arthropod bites, an eruption rarely mentioned in the medical literature, appears as a diagnostic challenge.

Objective: Our purpose was to study the clinical and histopathological features of this underrecognized condition.

Methods: We collected the observations of six consecutive patients seen between the years 2003 and 2006, who developed an acute linear erythematous eruption along lymphatic vessels, mimicking common bacterial lymphangitis. Standard histological examinations were completed by immunopathological staining using the monoclonal antibody D2-40, a highly selective marker of lymphatic endothelium. Extensive review of the literature about acute noninfectious superficial lymphangitis was performed.

Results: The clinical presentation and histological findings excluded an infectious etiology and suggested superficial lymphangitis after an arthropod bite in all the observations.

Conclusions: This article analyzes the clinical and histological features of noninfectious superficial lymphangitis after arthropod bite, a benign underrecognized condition mimicking common bacterial lymphangitis. Physicians should be aware of this benign reaction to avoid the useless prescription of antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arthropods
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Bites and Stings / complications*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphangitis / diagnosis*
  • Lymphangitis / etiology*
  • Lymphangitis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged