Cutaneous simulants of infectious disease

Int J Dermatol. 2011 Sep;50(9):1043-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.04887.x.


Many cutaneous conditions can mimic infection. If these lesions are not accurately recognized, they may be treated with antimicrobial agents, which adds cost, potential risk, and inconvenience to the patient and the healthcare system. The presenting signs and symptoms of many ulcerating, pustular, morbilliform, bullous, neoplastic, granulomatous, autoimmune, and neutrophilic conditions, as well as clinical vasculitis, cellulitis, folliculitis, and panniculitis, have been mistaken for infection. This review emphasizes the clinical presentation, physical exam, and diagnostic workup of many of these conditions to assist the clinician in ascertaining the correct diagnosis. In addition, general treatment options are provided for each disease category.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis / diagnosis
  • Behcet Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Cellulitis / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eosinophilia / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Mastocytoma, Skin / diagnosis
  • Panniculitis / diagnosis
  • Pyoderma Gangrenosum / diagnosis
  • Sarcoidosis / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases, Viral / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Vasculitis, Leukocytoclastic, Cutaneous / diagnosis