Erythematous and Vascular Oral Mucosal Lesions: A Clinicopathologic Review of Red Entities

Head Neck Pathol. 2019 Mar;13(1):4-15. doi: 10.1007/s12105-019-01002-8. Epub 2019 Jan 29.


Erythematous lesions of the oral mucosa are common and can reflect a variety of conditions, ranging from benign reactive or immunologically-mediated disorders to malignant disease. Together with vascular abnormalities, which can vary from reddish to bluish-purple in color, the differential diagnosis for erythematous oral mucosal change is quite diverse. This review focuses on salient clinical features and histopathologic findings of selected conditions which clinically present as red or vascular-like oral mucosal alterations, including oral vascular malformations and neoplasms, pyogenic granuloma, localized juvenile spongiotic gingival hyperplasia, denture stomatitis, benign migratory glossitis (geographic tongue), orofacial granulomatosis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener granulomatosis), megaloblastic anemia, and erythroplakia. Recognition of the characteristic clinical features of these conditions, in conjunction with thorough patient history, will allow clinicians to narrow the differential diagnosis and guide appropriate clinical decision making, including the need for tissue biopsy, in order to complete the diagnostic process and initiate optimal patient care.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Erythema; Erythematous; Oral mucosa; Red; Vascular.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erythema / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Mouth Diseases / pathology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology*
  • Vascular Diseases / pathology*