• Users Online: 410
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

  Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 204-206  

Diffuse leprosy with "deck-chair" sign

1 Department of Dermatology, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Deralakatte, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of General Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Deralakatte, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication6-May-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M Manjunath Shenoy
Department of Dermatology, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Deralakatte, Mangalore - 575 018, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5178.156408

Rights and Permissions

A 55-year-old male presented with asymptomatic extensive skin lesions since one year. He was found to have diffuse lesions involving the face, trunk, arms, and thighs along with symmetric peripheral nerve thickening. Bacteriological and histopathological examination confirmed lepromatous leprosy. There was a conspicuous sparing of the abdominal creases and axillae from the infiltrative lesions suggesting a positive "deck-chair" sign. This sign has been described in the past with papulo-erythroderma of Ofuji and certain other disorders. Leprosy may be now included among the causes of "deck-chair" sign.

Keywords: Deck-chair sign, diffuse infiltration, leprosy

How to cite this article:
Shenoy M M, Bendigeri MA, Kamath PR, Vishal B. Diffuse leprosy with "deck-chair" sign. Indian Dermatol Online J 2015;6:204-6

How to cite this URL:
Shenoy M M, Bendigeri MA, Kamath PR, Vishal B. Diffuse leprosy with "deck-chair" sign. Indian Dermatol Online J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jan 26];6:204-6. Available from: https://www.idoj.in/text.asp?2015/6/3/204/156408

   Introduction Top

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, a pathogen that is capable of surviving in the macrophages. Long period of incubation and host interaction in the form of cell-mediated immunity leads to a spectrum of clinical manifestations. Cutaneous lesions of lepromatous leprosy include widespread and symmetric papules, nodules, and diffuse infiltration.

Classically, the "deck-chair" sign is described in papulo-erythroderma of Ofuji, an inflammatory disorder characterized by coalescence of solid papules that typically "spare the skin folds" such as those of abdomen and antecubital and axillary areas. [1] This sign has also been described with many extensive inflammatory dermatoses.

   Case Report Top

A 55-year-old male presented with skin changes of one year duration. There was also recurrent blistering and ulceration of the hands and feet. He was being managed by a primary care physician with no relief, hence he reported to our centre. On examination, his general condition, vital signs, and systems were normal except for the presence of anemia. Cutaneous examination was remarkable with diffuse erythema, shininess, and induration involving the face, earlobes, trunk, thighs, arms, and hands [Figure 1]. Conspicuous sparing of the abdominal creases and axillae, that is "deck-chair sign" was noticeable [Figure 2] and [Figure 3]. Hands and feet were swollen and shiny with erosions and depigmentation indicating ruptured and healed blisters. There were no noticeable cutaneous lesions such as macules or nodules. Symmetrical thickening of ulnar, radial cutaneous, lateral popliteal, and posterior tibial nerves was also found. Tactile sensations on the hands and feet were diminished. Ocular and orthopedic examination was normal. With all findings directing towards the diagnosis of leprosy; confirmation was sought with slit skin smear, which was positive for M. leprae with bacteriological index (BI) of 5 + in the right earlobe [Figure 4]. Histopathology confirmed lepromatous leprosy with epidermal atrophy, grenz zone, and massive infiltration of foamy macrophages in the dermis. Fite staining was also positive for M. leprae. Having confirmed it as a case of lepromatous leprosy, we treated him with the WHO recommended multibacillary multidrug therapy (MDT). The patient showed good response to treatment during a one year follow-up, with reduction in BI within two months of initiating MDT [Figure 5].
Figure 1: Diffuse infiltration involving the posterior trunk

Click here to view
Figure 2: Lesions sparing abdominal crease

Click here to view
Figure 3: Lesions sparing the axilla

Click here to view
Figure 4: Mycobacterium leprae in split skin smear (Zeihl-Neelson, ×1000)

Click here to view
Figure 5: Follow-up image of subsiding infiltration at six months

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Leprosy primarily affects the peripheral nerves and skin, and sometimes certain internal organs. It has a wide range of cutaneous manifestations depending on the host response to the pathogen. Apart from the clinical forms, there are lepra reactions with a complex pathogenesis involving inflammatory cells and cytokines. [2] The diagnosis of leprosy is based on clinical, bacteriological, and histological evidences. Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are not uncommon, and in lepromatous leprosy this may lead to permanent disability and deformities. [3] Diffuse infiltration of the trunk, face, and large portions of the extremities was noted on presentation in our patient. Diffuse infiltration is one of the later manifestations of lepromatous leprosy. This is an example of a case of lepromatous leprosy with a delayed diagnosis, leading to a diffuse pattern of leprosy amounting to erythroderma.

Interestingly, we noticed sparing of the abdominal creases and axilla, a sign described as "deck-chair sign". The sign has been classically described in papuloerythroderma of Ofuji, but may not be a specific sign since it is described in certain other conditions such as generalized acanthosis nigricans, Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, large plaque parapsoriasis, angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, and erythroderma due to various causes. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8] This clinical observation has been described previously by Prashar et al. and probably this is the second report. [9] Sparing of the abdominal creases and other body folds was probably due to the tendency of leprosy lesions to spare warmer areas of the body. It is important to realize that no skin area is an "immune zone" to the invasion of M. leprae, as studies have documented bacteriological and histological evidence of the disease process in clinically uninvolved skin. [10] Relative sparing of certain areas in lepromatous leprosy is a known finding, but transformation of this finding into a clinically appreciable "deck chair" sign is an interesting observation.

   References Top

Madke B, Nayak C. Eponymous signs in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J 2012;3:159-65.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Foss NT, Motta AC. Leprosy, a neglected disease that causes a wide variety of clinical conditions in tropical countries. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 2012;107 Suppl 1:28-33.  Back to cited text no. 2
Trindade MA, Varella TC, Cisneros CG, Bottini V, Moura AK. Delayed diagnosis of multibacillary leprosy: A report of eight cases. Braz J Infect Dis 2009;13:155-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Murao K, Sadamoto Y, Kubo Y, Arase S. Generalized malignant acanthosis nigricans with "deck-chair sign". Int J Dermatol 2013;52:377-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Inaoki M, Kawabata C, Yagishita M, Nishijima C. Large plaque parapsoriasis with the "deck-chair" sign successfully treated with bath psoralen and ultraviolet A therapy. J Dermatol 2010;37:570-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Autier J, Buffet M, Pinquier L, Merlat-Guitard AI, Carlotti A, Franck N, et al. Cutaneous Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia with "deck-chair" sign treated with cyclophosphamide. J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;52:45-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ferran M, Gallardo F, Baena V, Ferrer A, Florensa L, Pujol RM. The 'deck chair sign' in specific cutaneous involvement by angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma. Dermatology 2006;213:50-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
Pal S, Haroon TS. Erythroderma: A clinico-etiologic study of 90 cases. Int J Dermatol 1998;37:104-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Prashar A, Narang T, Saikia UN, Dogra S. Deck chair sign in lepromatous leprosy. Lepr Rev 2013;84:252-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
Rajashekar TS, Singh G, Naik LC. Immune zones in leprosy. Indian J Dermatol 2009;54:206-10.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]

This article has been cited by
1 Deck-chair sign: unreserved
B. D. Rhijn, S. Ruth, D. M. W. Balak
Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2021; 46(3): 560
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 “Deck chair sign” presenting in type 1 lepra reaction
Amina Asfiya, ManjunathMala Shenoy, VishalB Amin, Malcolm Pinto, SpandanaPrakash Hegde, AshmiyaAbdul Razak
Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences. 2021; 9(1): 171
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Generalized Parthenium dermatitis with deck-chair sign
Syed S. Amin, Hania Qamar, Mohammad Adil, Mohd Mohtashim, Sabha Mushtaq, Divya Agrawal
Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia. 2020; 155(3)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 A case report of erythroderma in a patient with borderline leprosy on reversal reaction: a result of the exacerbated reaction?
Denis Miyashiro,Ana Paula Vieira,Maria Angela Bianconcini Trindade,João Avancini,José Antonio Sanches,Gil Benard
BMC Dermatology. 2017; 17(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Physician, beware! The deckchair sign can be seen in dermatomyositis
A. G. H. Wernham,G. A. Fremlin,S. D. Orpin,A. Salim
Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2016;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded397    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal