Histopathological Study of a Broad Spectrum of Skin Dermatoses in Patients Affected or Highly Suspected of Infection by COVID-19 in the Northern Part of Italy: Analysis of the Many Faces of the Viral-Induced Skin Diseases in Previous and New Reported Cases

Raffaele Gianotti, Sebastiano Recalcati, Fabrizio Fantini, Cristina Riva, Mario Milani, Emanuele Dainese, Francesca Boggio

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Abstract

Copyright © 2020 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved. Skin manifestations of COVID-19 infections are diverse and are new to the dermatology community. We had the opportunity to examine the clinical and histopathological features of several patients who were divided into 3 groups. The first group included 8 COVID-19-positive patients who were hospitalized and quarantined at home. The second group included children and young adults who presented with chilblain erythema, erythema multiforme, and urticaria-like lesions. This group of patients was negative for the COVID-19 gene sequences by polymerase chain reaction but had a high risk of COVID-19 infection. The third group included clinically heterogeneous and challenging lesions. These patients were not subject to either polymerase chain reaction tests or serological analyses because they sought dermatological attention only for a dermatosis. The histopathological analysis of these cases showed a wide spectrum of histopathological patterns. What appears to be constant in all skin biopsies was the presence of prominent dilated blood vessels with a swollen endothelial layer, vessels engulfed with red blood cells, and perivascular infiltrates, consisting mainly of cytotoxic CD8+ lymphocytes and eosinophils. In 2 cases, there was diffuse coagulopathy in the cutaneous vascular plexus. In the early phases of the disease, there were numerous collections of Langerhans cells in the epidermis after being activated by the virus. The presence of urticarial lesions, chilblains, targetoid lesions (erythema multiforme-like lesions), exanthema, maculohemorrhagic rash, or chickenpox-like lesions associated with the histopathological features mentioned previously should cause clinical dermatologists to suspect the possibility of COVID-19 infection, especially in patients with fever and cough.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Dermatopathology
Volume42
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

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