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Cutaneous manifestations of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)

Edward W Cowen, MD, MHSc
Section Editor
Jeffrey Callen, MD, FACP, FAAD
Deputy Editor
Abena O Ofori, MD


Acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) are multisystem disorders that are complications of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT). Skin involvement is common, and mucosal, hair, or nail abnormalities may also occur. Because these disorders share clinical and histopathological features with a variety of other skin diseases, thorough consideration of the differential diagnosis is essential for the management of post-HCT patients with lesions suggestive of cutaneous GVHD.

The clinical and histopathological features, differential diagnosis, and supportive therapy of cutaneous GVHD will be reviewed here. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of acute and chronic GVHD are reviewed in greater detail separately. (See "Pathogenesis of graft-versus-host disease" and "Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and grading of acute graft-versus-host disease" and "Prevention of acute graft-versus-host disease" and "Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and grading of chronic graft-versus-host disease" and "Treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease".)


Classically, GVHD has been divided into acute and chronic forms based upon the time of onset of disease:

Acute GVHD – Manifestations of GVHD occurring within 100 days after HCT

Chronic GVHD – Manifestations of GVHD occurring more than 100 days after HCT

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 20, 2016.
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