confluent and reticulated papillomatosis

Confluent and Reticulated Papillomatosis

The Brooklyn Hospital Center, NY
Weill Cornell Medical College, Manhattan, NY

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Confluent and Reticulated PapillomatosisFor the past month, a 17-year-old obese African-American girl had right-sided flank pain and a worsening rash on her trunk. The rash first appeared as a small lesion on her right shoulder a year earlier. Since then, the lesions had enlarged and had spread to the back and chest. The patient had associated itching and dryness. Her past medical history was significant for asthma and no other associated illnesses.

During the physical examination, several large hyperpigmented, keratotic plaques of varying sizes were noted on the back, right shoulder, and inframammary area (A and B). The lesions coalesced to form a reticulated pattern peripherally and confluent plaques centrally. Velvety patches of hyperpigmented skin, suggestive of acanthosis nigricans, were also present on the neck.

The patient was initially treated with a topical hydrocortisone cream for presumed eczema with no relief. She was subsequently referred to a dermatologist. Biopsy results were consistent with the diagnosis of confluent and reticulated papillomatosis (CARP).

The clinical findings associated with CARP were first described in 1927 by French dermatologists Gougerot and Carteaud1 under the name “papillomatose pigmentee innominee” and later “papillomatose pigmentee innominee confluente et reticulare.” The condition’s current name was coined in 1937 by American dermatologists Wise and Sachs2 and sometimes bears the eponym of Gougerot and Carteaud.

Confluent and Reticulated PapillomatosisThe etiology of CARP is unclear; however, some suggested causes include an inherent keratinization disorder, an endocrinopathy, a reaction to UV light, a reaction to Pityrosporum, and a genetic factor.3 Clinically, CARP can present with hyperkeratotic papules or patches that coalesce to form a reticular pattern. Common locations for CARP include the torso and inframammary and epigastric regions, with later spread to the neck, axillae, or shoulder regions. CARP spares mucosal surfaces.3 Patients may have associated mild pruritus, although CARP is most often asymptomatic.4

With no widely accepted diagnostic criteria, it has been proposed that the presence of scalene brown macules and patches, some reticulated and papillomatous, on the upper trunk and neck and an excellent response to minocycline point toward the diagnosis.5 In addition, the scales would stain negative for fungi, and CARP does not respond clinically to antifungal treatment.

A variety of treatment modalities have been used for CARP, including antibiotics,6 oral contraceptives, and vitamin A preparations; however, the preferred approach is oral minocycline.7 The hyperkeratotic lesions may also respond to 70% isopropyl alcohol.8

CARP is a chronic disease characterized by exacerbations and remissions. Discontinuation of therapy usually results in recurrence. For this patient, oral minocycline once daily resulted in significant improvement. However, she discontinued the medication after 1 month because of concerns of photosensitivity, and the rash worsened. She is currently evaluating her treatment options.




1.Gougerot H, Carteaud A. Papillomatose pigmentee innominee. Bull Soc Fr Dermatol Syphiligr.1927;34:719-721.

2. Wise F, Sachs W. Cutaneous papillomatose: papillomatose confluente et reticulee. Arch Dermatol Syphilol. 1937;36:475-485.

3. Scheinfeld N. Confluent and reticulated papillomatosis: a review of the literature. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2006;7(5):305-313.

4. Sau P, Lupton GP. Reticulated truncal pigmentation. Confluent and reticulated papillomatosis of Gougerot and Carteaud. Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(8):1272, 1275.

5. Davis MD, Weenig RH, Camilleri MJ. Confluent and reticulate papillomatosis (Gougerot-Carteaud syndrome): a minocycline-responsive dermatosis without evidence for yeast in pathogenesis. A study of 39 patients and a proposal of diagnostic criteria. Br J Dermatol. 2006;154(2):287-293.

6. Jang HS, Oh CK, Cha JH, et al. Six cases of confluent and reticulated papillomatosis alleviated by various antibiotics. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001;44(4):652-655.

7. Montemarano AD, Hengge M, Sau P, Welch M. Confluent and reticulated papillomatosis: response to minocycline. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996;34(2, pt 1):253-256.

8. Berk DR. Confluent and reticulated papillomatosis response to 70% alcohol swabbing. Arch Dematol. 2011;147(2):247-248.