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July 2005

Development of Sarcoidosis in Cosmetic Tattoos

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Ky.

Arch Dermatol. 2005;141(7):869-872. doi:10.1001/archderm.141.7.869

Background  The development of granulomatous lesions within tattoos is a well-recognized occurrence in individuals with sarcoidosis. The characteristic histopathological finding of sarcoidosis is the presence of noncaseating granulomas; however, similar histopathogical findings may be seen in foreign body granulomas. Several reports have challenged the assertion that the presence of foreign material within sarcoidal granulomas is incompatible with a diagnosis of sarcoidosis.

Observations  We describe a patient who had multiple linearly arranged papules along her eyebrows and the vermillion border of her upper lip. She had had cosmetic tattooing performed on these areas 3 year prior to presentation. Histopathologic examination revealed sarcoidal granulomas, polarizable foreign material, and pigment granules. Hilar adenopathy was noted on a chest radiograph. After 4 months of treatment with a midpotency topical steroid and doxycycline, she experienced complete clearance of her cutaneous lesions and normalization of chest x-ray film findings.

Conclusions  This case demonstrates a unique adverse result after cosmetic tattooing and highlights the concept that granulomatous histopathologic findings containing foreign material should not be an exclusionary criterion for the diagnosis of sarcoidosis. In this setting, further investigation for the presence of systemic disease is indicated.