Pediatric Mastocytosis: Recognition and Management

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2021 Mar;22(2):205-220. doi: 10.1007/s40257-020-00581-5.


Mastocytosis is a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by the accumulation of clonal mast cells in organs such as the skin and bone marrow. In contrast to adults, most affected children have only cutaneous involvement. This article reviews the molecular pathogenesis, skin findings, mast cell mediator-related symptoms, evaluation, and management of childhood-onset mastocytosis, noting differences from adult-onset disease. Current classification of cutaneous mastocytosis and the natural histories of different variants in pediatric patients are highlighted, with a focus on clinical manifestations with prognostic implications. A practical algorithm is provided to guide clinical assessment, laboratory and other investigations, and longitudinal monitoring, including recognition of hepatosplenomegaly as a marker of systemic disease and utilization of allele-specific quantitative PCR (ASqPCR) to detect KIT mutations in the peripheral blood. Updated information and consensus-based recommendations regarding possible triggers of mast-cell degranulation (e.g., physical, medications) are discussed, with an emphasis on patient-specific factors and avoiding excessive parental concern. Lastly, an individualized, stepwise approach to treatment of symptoms, skin-directed therapy, and potential use of kinase inhibitors for severe systemic disease is outlined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cell Degranulation
  • Child
  • Consensus
  • Critical Pathways / standards*
  • Dermatology / methods
  • Dermatology / standards
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / pathology*
  • Mastocytosis, Cutaneous / diagnosis*
  • Mastocytosis, Cutaneous / genetics
  • Mastocytosis, Cutaneous / pathology
  • Mastocytosis, Cutaneous / therapy
  • Mutation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors