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Pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta (PLEVA)

James R Treat, MD
Section Editors
Moise L Levy, MD
John A Zic, MD
Deputy Editor
Abena O Ofori, MD


Pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta (PLEVA), otherwise known as Mucha-Habermann disease, is an uncommon cutaneous inflammatory disorder that most frequently affects young adults and children. PLEVA usually presents as an acute eruption of inflammatory papules and papulovesicles that rapidly develop hemorrhagic or necrotic crusts (picture 1A-C). Febrile ulceronecrotic Mucha-Habermann disease (FUMHD) is a potentially life-threatening, severe presentation of PLEVA.

Pityriasis lichenoides chronica (PLC), which is characterized by the appearance of multiple scaly, red-brown papules on the skin, is often considered to be on a disease continuum with PLEVA (picture 2) [1]. The term "pityriasis lichenoides" is frequently used to refer to the spectrum of these disorders.

The clinical features, diagnosis, and management of PLEVA will be discussed here. PLC is reviewed separately. (See "Pityriasis lichenoides chronica".)


PLEVA is a rare disorder. The precise incidence and prevalence are not known. PLEVA may occur at any age (including infants) [2], but most frequently occurs in children and young adults.

Data on PLEVA and PLC are often combined in the literature under pityriasis lichenoides, complicating the assessment of the epidemiology of PLEVA. A slight male predominance has been detected among children with pityriasis lichenoides [1], and in one of the largest series of children with pityriasis lichenoides, 40 of 71 children with PLEVA (56 percent) were male [3]. A male predominance is less consistently observed in the general population of patients with pityriasis lichenoides [1].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Aug 26, 2015.
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