Necrolytic acral erythema: a cutaneous marker of viral hepatitis C

Int J Dermatol. 1996 Apr;35(4):252-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4362.1996.tb02997.x.


Background: Necrolytic acral erythema (NAE) is a distinctive skin lesion that was found to affect the dorsa of the feet of seven patients having active viral hepatitis C. Necrolytic acral erythema occurs in the form of well circumscribed dusky erythematous areas that develop flaccid blisters in their early stages and a hyperkeratotic surface in their chronic form. Microscopically, lesions of NAE are similar to those of other necrolytic erythemas such as necrolytic migratory erythema, pellagra, and zinc deficiency.

Method: Seven patients with NAE were included in this study. These patients underwent microscopic examination of punch biopsy specimens of the affected skin, abdominal sonography, CT scan of pancreas, and a liver biopsy. Blood samples were obtained for complete blood picture, serum glucose, zinc, amino acids, liver function tests, and markers of hepatitis.

Results: All patients with NAE were found to have hepatitis C by ELISA and PCR.

Conclusions: Necrolytic acral erythema is a distinctive type of necrolytic erythemas that was observed to occur almost exclusively with viral hepatitis C. Therefore, it should be considered an important cutaneous marker of hepatitis C, particularly in areas showing a high incidence of this form of hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Erythema / etiology*
  • Erythema / pathology
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / metabolism
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Skin / pathology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies