Minocycline-induced hyperpigmentation in multibacillary leprosy

Am J Dermatopathol. 2012 Dec;34(8):e114-8. doi: 10.1097/DAD.0b013e3182605052.


Minocycline has been used in the treatment of leprosy since the demonstration of its efficacy in inhibiting Mycobacterium leprae growth in 1987. Hyperpigmentation, a well-documented adverse effect, classically shows 3 clinical and histological patterns: type I consists of blue-black pigmentation in areas of current or previous inflammation, type II consists of blue-gray pigmentation of normal skin, often seen on the legs, and type III consists of diffuse muddy-brown pigmentation accentuated on sun-exposed sites. Whereas type I hyperpigmentation stains positively for hemosiderin and type III hyperpigmentation stains positively for melanin, type II hyperpigmentation stains positively for both. We describe 2 patients with leprosy on minocycline therapy who developed multiple patches of blue-gray pigmentation within preexisting leprosy lesions. Biopsies from both patients demonstrated deposition of brownish-black pigment granules within the cytoplasm of foamy histiocytes that was highlighted by both Perls and Fontana-Masson stains. Given the clinical and histological findings in our patients, it is as yet unclear whether this coexistent type I clinical pattern and type II histopathologic pattern of pigmentation is unique to multibacillary leprosy. These findings provide support for the existence of additional subtypes of minocycline-induced hyperpigmentation that do not adhere to the classic 3-type model described.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / chemically induced*
  • Hyperpigmentation / pathology*
  • Leprosy, Multibacillary / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minocycline / adverse effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Minocycline