eye disorders

What is this pigmented papule on a toddler's shoulder?

David L. Kaplan, MD—Series Editor
University of Missouri Kansas City, University of Kansas

Case: The mother of this 18-month-old boy brings him to your office for evaluation of a pigmented lesion of 2 months’ duration on the right anterior shoulder. When the lesion is rubbed, it becomes red and inflamed and occasionally a blister forms. The child is otherwise healthy.

What are you looking at here?

A.    Congenital nevus.
B.    Café au lait spot.
C.    Linear epidermal nevus.
D.    Solitary mastocytoma.
E.    Wart.















(Answer on page next page.)




D. Solitary mastocytoma


The lightly pigmented papule on this patient’s shoulder is characteristic of a solitary mastocytoma, D. This benign proliferation of mast cells usually appears during infancy and resolves before puberty. The release of histamine on stroking causes an urticarial reaction that can sometimes produce a blister. The use of a potent topical corticosteroid cream for a few weeks is usually sufficient to control the urticarial symptoms. A solitary mastocytoma typically is not associated with systemic symptoms, which may accompany widespread lesions. These symptoms can include flushing, headache, dyspnea, wheezing, rhinorrhea, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and syncope.

A congenital nevus usually is not light reddish brown and is not associated with urticarial symptoms; however, if necessary, a skin biopsy can differentiate it from a mastocytoma. Café au lait spots are uniformly pale brown macules. Linear epidermal nevi are verrucous-like; they have a pebbled keratotic surface, unlike that of a mastocytoma. Common warts are typically skin-colored and also keratotic.