Chronic heat-induced skin lesions (Erythema ab Igne): Ultrastructural studies

V. Cavallari, R. Cicciarello, V. Torre, M. Ester Gagliardi, F. Albiero, R. Palazzo, M. Siragusa, C. Schipis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Erythema ab igne (El) is an uncommon skin lesion caused by mild and repeated exposure to infrared sources. The aim of this study was to investigate the ultrastructural alterations in this condition. The ultrastructural study was carried out on 5-outpatients who presented typical El of their exposed sites. Skin punch biopsies were processed for standard electron microscopy. The epidermis was hyperpigmented, with focal regressive changes of basal keratinocytes. An apparent functional activation of melanocytes with numerical increase of dendritic processes was also observed. The dermis showed abundant melanophages and occasional elastic fiber alterations similar to actinic elastosis. No alterations consistent with preneoplastic skin conditions were observed. The ultrastructural findings associated with El seem to be nonspecific and consistent with moderate regressive changes of keratinocytes as well as a consensual melanocytic activation and elastic fiber modifications. Similar alterations can be observed in chronic actinic skin damage. This condition is presumably more benign than the ultraviolet exposure. The association of El and premalignant skin lesions, though occasionally described, seems relatively infrequent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Erythema ab igne
  • Mental retardation
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Instrumentation


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