Acitretin-induced periungual pyogenic granulomas and review

Dermatol Online J. 2021 Jul 15;27(7). doi: 10.5070/D327754369.


Periungual pyogenic granulomas are benign vascular tumors that present as painful, round, spontaneously bleeding lesions composed of rapidly proliferating capillaries and excess tissue. The vast majority of pyogenic granulomas are caused by physical trauma or infectious agents and they may resolve spontaneously. Herein, we highlight a very rare case of periungual pyogenic granulomas induced by the regularly prescribed oral retinoid acitretin during treatment for congenital palmoplantar keratoderma. This unique case showed that it is feasible to continue acitretin therapy in the presence of pyogenic granuloma development if proper dose reduction and topical therapies are utilized. The patient's lesions resolved within two weeks of this protocol's initiation and the pyogenic granulomas did not recur over the course of a six-month follow-up observation period. In addition, we performed a systematic review of the literature using PubMed databases for the clinical features and treatments in other reported acitretin-induced pyogenic granuloma cases; we compiled a comprehensive list of other prescription drugs known to cause pyogenic granulomas up-to-date.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acitretin / administration & dosage
  • Acitretin / adverse effects*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Clobetasol / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Granuloma, Pyogenic / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Keratoderma, Palmoplantar / drug therapy
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Keratolytic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Mupirocin / administration & dosage
  • Nail Diseases / chemically induced*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Clobetasol
  • Mupirocin
  • Acitretin