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Necrolytic acral erythema: a patient from the United States successfully treated with oral zinc.

BACKGROUND: Recently, necrolytic acral erythema (NAE) has been described as a cutaneous marker for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Only 2 cases have been reported in the United States. Successful remission has been induced only with interferon therapy with or without ribavirin.

OBSERVATIONS: We describe a 46-year-old, HCV-positive African American woman with well-defined, dusky, erythematous plaques on the dorsa of the feet, Achilles tendons, legs, knees, and elbows. Histologic examination revealed confluent upper epidermal necrosis, acanthosis, papillomatosis, and superficial and deep perivascular inflammation. She was diagnosed as having NAE. We induced successful disease remission with oral zinc administration. This is the third NAE case reported in the United States and the first report of disease remission with oral zinc therapy alone.

CONCLUSIONS: Since its initial description in Egypt, more cases of NAE are being reported in the United States. Increased awareness of this entity is crucial. Oral zinc might represent a less toxic alternative therapeutic option for patients with NAE.

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