Terra Firma-Forme Dermatosis in Singaporean Patients: The "Alcohol Wipe" Sign

Choon Chiat Oh, Hazel H Oon, See Ket Ng, Shang Ian Tee, Anjali Jhingan, Wei-Sheng Chong
Skinmed 2016, 14 (5): 345-348
The term terra firma-forme dermatosis arises from the Latin phrase terra firma , meaning dry land (dirt), thus implying dirt-like dermatosis. The authors highlight five cases of patients with terra firma-forme dermatosis presenting to our dermatology center between 2012 and 2013. All patients presented to the dermatologist for persistent reticulated brown patches on the skin. These patients ranged in age from 6 to 22 years. All patients had tried various cleansing soaps and agents but were unable to remove the patches. The condition was cosmetically unacceptable to the patients and parents. Clinically, these patients had reticulated brown patches. Rubbing 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes on the affected areas demonstrated clearance of the brown pigmented patches in all cases. The diagnosis of terra firma-forme dermatosis (TFFD) was confirmed by forceful rubbing with a gauze pad immersed in 70% isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol. Patients should be reassured about the benign nature of TFFD and educated about the cleaning procedure. Recognition of this condition can assist physicians in making a diagnosis and therapy with a simple alcohol wipe, preventing further unnecessary tests for patients.

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