Indian Journal of Dermatology
  Publication of IADVL, WB
  Official organ of AADV
Indexed with Science Citation Index (E) , Web of Science and PubMed
Users online: 7416  
Home About  Editorial Board  Current Issue Archives Online Early Coming Soon Guidelines Subscriptions  e-Alerts    Login  
    Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this page Email this page

Table of Contents 
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 207
Erythematous lesions with erosions and swelling on the right forearm

From the Department of Dermatovenereology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Yu-Ping Ran
Department of Dermatovenereology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, No. 37, Guo Xue Xiang, Wuhou District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province – 610 041
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijd.ijd_1101_20

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Xiao H, Pradhan S, Zhuang KW, Ran YP. Erythematous lesions with erosions and swelling on the right forearm. Indian J Dermatol 2022;67:207

How to cite this URL:
Xiao H, Pradhan S, Zhuang KW, Ran YP. Erythematous lesions with erosions and swelling on the right forearm. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 9];67:207. Available from:

A 68-year-old Chinese man presented with enlarging erythematous plaques with erosions and swelling on his right forearm for 6 months. His lesions were accompanied by itching, without any history of fever or pain. After discontinuous antibiotic therapies, the condition slightly improved. However, almost 2 months ago, the initial lesions got worst, with the development of similar lesions around the cubital fossa presented with ulceration and exudates. He had a history of well-controlled diabetes for 4 years. Dermatological examination revealed 8 cm × 6 cm and 6 cm × 4 cm erythematous plaques with erosions, edema, and brown crusts on the right arm [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Right forearm image of the patient. Image showing the erythematous plaques with erosions, edema, and brown crusts.

Click here to view

Histopathological examination of the biopsy specimen revealed massive infiltration of inflammatory cells in the dermis and scattered epithelioid granuloma [Figure 2]. Special staining for PAS, chloramine silver, and acid-fast staining were insignificant. In the skin biopsy specimen culture, dry, chalky white colonies were found in rabbit blood agar, and Gram's stain smear showed gram-positive beaded branching filaments [Figure 3].
Figure 2: Histopathological image. Microscopic image with massive infiltration of inflammatory cells and scattered epithelioid granuloma in the dermis (HE × 40).

Click here to view
Figure 3: Gram stain smear showed Gram-positive beaded branching filaments (original magnification × 1000).

Click here to view

   What is Your Diagnosis? Top


Primary cutaneous nocardiosis

   Discussion Top

Primary cutaneous nocardiosis is an unusual disease of gram-positive Nocardiaceae infections caused by Nocardia species (family Actinomycetaceae). Nocardiosis is usually seen in immunocompromised individuals such as those with autoimmune disease, malignancy, diabetes, or AIDS. Therefore, it is generally considered an opportunistic infection. Its clinical variability includes lymphocutaneous syndrome,[1] superficial skin infection[2] (pustule, pyoderma, abscess, ulcer, granuloma, or cellulitis), chronic conditions of hyperkeratotic plaques, tumor-like masses, and mycetoma[3] along with systemic nocardiosis cutaneous involvement. In some instances, the infection may also be subclinical and resolve spontaneously.

Diagnosis of primary cutaneous nocardiosis can be confirmed through culture and molecular sequencing of the skin biopsy specimen. As the colony of culture grows very slowly, it may lead to false-negative culture, resulting in misdiagnosis.

Primary cutaneous nocardiosis should be differentiated from lymphatic spread sporotrichosis, nontuberculous mycobacterial infection, and skin squamous cell carcinoma with infection. A typical lymphatic sporotrichosis manifests as a nodule that may ulcerate and spread along the pathway of lymphatic vessels from the distal to the proximal extremities. Histological examination presents with non-specific granulomas of the dermis. PAS, chloramine silver, and gram staining reveal ovoid or fusiform bodies with a positive fungal culture. Due to the presence of multiple nodules, erosions, and ulcers or acute single abscess and cellulitis distributed along the unilateral limb, clinicians should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of primary cutaneous nocardiosis infection while paying attention to exclude sporotrichosis, mycobacterial infections, and skin tumors, and inquiring the patient for any immunosuppression-related diseases with traumatic history to avoid misdiagnosis.

The first-line choice for the treatment of this disease is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), where the course of therapy should not be less than 1–3 months. However, reports of sulfonamide-resistant Nocardia infections are increasing year by year, and the treatment plan is adjusted according to the antimicrobial susceptibility testing, which requires continuous and sufficient treatment course.

In this case, Nocardia brasiliensis (GenBank accession number: MK177479) was identified by PCR-based sequence analysis by using 16S ribosomal RNA. After the initiation of the specific treatment with levofloxacin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for 4 weeks, the patient presented with significant clinical improvements. There was no recurrence in the 3-year follow-up period.

Learning Points

  • Cutaneous Nocardia infection alone has no specific manifestations; however, in combination with other immunodeficiencies, trauma, or poor treatment history, we must consider the possibility of this disease.
  • If a primary cutaneous infection is suspected, a skin biopsy is the most valuable sample.
  • Nocardia is partially slow-growing aerobic actinomycetes. Therefore, the culture time of the bacteria should be extended to avoid misdiagnosis.
  • Sufficient, specific, and sensitive antibiotics can shorten the disease course.


Additional Contributions: This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation Project (No. 81803150). We appreciate the patient for granting permission to publish this information.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Chu L, Xu XX, Ran YP. Primary cutaneous nocardiosis caused by Nocardia brasiliensis following a wasp sting. Clin Exp Dermatol 2017;42:416-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Zhuang KW, Tang JQ, Ran YP. Image gallery: Acute primary cutaneous nocardiosis due to Nocardia brasiliensis. Br J Dermatol 2017;176:97.  Back to cited text no. 2
Ichikawa Y, Nakayama Y, Hata J, Umebayashi Y, Ito M. Cutaneous nocardiosis caused by Nocardia africana on the lower thigh. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2009;62:503-5.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


Print this article  Email this article
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Article in PDF (787 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    What is Your Dia...
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded0    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal