The patient was diagnosed with idiopathic facial aseptic granuloma (IFAG) based on the clinical findings, as well as the associated history of chalazia and erythematous papules seen in childhood rosacea.
She was treated with several months of azithromycin, sulfur wash, and metronidazole cream with improvement of some of the smaller lesions but no change on the larger nodules. Later she was treated with oral and topical ivermectin with no improvement. Some of the nodules slowly resolved except for the larger lesion on the right cheek. She was later treated with a 6-week course of clarithromycin with partial improvement of the nodule. The lesion resolved after 2 months of stopping clarithromycin.
IFAG is a rare condition seen in prepubescent children. The etiology of this condition is not well understood and is thought to be on the spectrum of childhood rosacea.1 From several recent reports, IFAG usually is seen in children with associated conditions including chalazia, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and telangiectasias, which can be seen in patients with rosacea. These associated findings suggest the possibility of IFAG being a form of granulomatous rosacea in children.
This condition presents in childhood between the ages of 8 months and 13 years. Most of the cases occur in toddlers, and girls appear to be more affected than boys. The lesions appear as pink, rubbery, nontender, nonfluctuant nodules on the cheeks, which can be single or multiple. A large prospective study in 30 children demonstrated that more 70% of the lesions cultured were negative for bacteria. Histologic analysis of some of the lesions showed a chronic dermal lymphohistiocytic granulomatous perifollicular infiltrate with numerous foreign body–type giant cells.2
The differential diagnosis of these lesions should include infectious pyodermas such as mycobacterial infections, cutaneous leishmaniasis, and botryomycosis; deep fungal infections such as sporotrichosis, coccidioidomycosis, and cryptococcosis; childhood nodulocystic acne; pilomatrixoma; epidermoid cyst; vascular tumors or malformations; and leukemia cutis.3
The diagnosis is usually clinical but in atypical cases a skin biopsy with tissue cultures should be performed. The decision to biopsy these lesions will need to be done in a one by one basis, as a biopsy may leave scaring on the area affected.
It has been postulated that a color Doppler ultrasound of the lesion may be a helpful ancillary study. Echographic findings show a well demarcated solid-cystic, hypoechoic dermal lesion, the largest axis of which lies parallel to the skin surface. The lesion lacks calcium deposits. Other findings include increased echogenicity of the underlaying hypodermis. The findings may vary depending on the stage of the lesion.4
The course of the condition may last on average months to years. Some lesions resolve spontaneously and others may respond to courses of oral antibiotics such as clarithromycin, azithromycin, or ivermectin. In our patient, several lesions improved with oral antibiotics, but the larger lesions were more persistent and resolved after a year.
The lesions usually resolve without scarring. In those patients with associated rosacea, maintenance topical treatments may be warranted and also may need follow-up with ophthalmology because they tend to commonly have ocular rosacea as well.
Dr. Matiz is a pediatric dermatologist at Southern California Permanente Medical Group, San Diego. She said she had no relevant financial disclosures. Email her at.