Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp associated with peripheral and axial spondyloarthritis: report of a case and review of the literature

Clin Rheumatol. 2022 Aug;41(8):2553-2560. doi: 10.1007/s10067-022-06128-9. Epub 2022 Apr 23.


Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp (DCS) is a rare, primary neutrophilic cicatricial alopecia of unknown etiology. The disease follows a chronic, relapsing, and remitting course which may ultimately lead to scar formation and alopecia. The association of seronegative peripheral and/or axial spondyloarthritis in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and acne conglobata (AC) is well established. However, the occurrence of spondyloarthropathy in patients with either isolated or combined DCS is relatively rare and therefore underrecognized by clinicians. We report a patient with DCS with inflammatory peripheral arthritis and asymptomatic radiographic sacroiliitis. Using PubMed, Ovid, and Google scholar, we searched for case reports of inflammatory arthritis in HS, AC, and DCS in the English literature from 1982 to present. We identified 12 patients with DCS who had associated spondyloarthropathy with adequate clinical details for a systematic analysis. We outline key clinical features, radiographic findings, and treatment utilized for these patients. Seronegative axial and peripheral spondyloarthritis may occur in the setting of isolated DCS as well with concomitant HS and AC. The inflammatory arthritis often develops during acute flares of the cutaneous disease. Choosing optimal drug therapy may be challenging. Current options include anti-TNF-α medications, which have been reported to be effective for both the cutaneous lesions and the associated spondyloarthritis. The complex pathophysiology of the conditions that comprise the follicular occlusion triad warrants further research into the potential role of additional biologic agents.

Keywords: Axial spondyloarthritis; Dissecting cellulitis; Peripheral spondyloarthritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris* / drug therapy
  • Alopecia
  • Axial Spondyloarthritis*
  • Cellulitis
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa* / complications
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa* / drug therapy
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Scalp Dermatoses
  • Skin Diseases, Genetic
  • Spondylarthritis* / complications
  • Spondylarthritis* / drug therapy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors

Supplementary concepts

  • Perifolliculitis Capitis Abscedens Et Suffodiens, Familial