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Puzzling palmar papules and pits

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A 54-year-old African American woman came to the office with a problem on her hands that began about 10 years before: small, hard plugs that formed on her palms (Figures 1 and 2). These areas remain tender for 1 to 2 days after the plugs first form and while they “stick up.” After a few days, the plugs fall out, leaving small pits. The patient experienced no other symptoms once the plugs fall out; just the appearance of her palms.

Many years ago, a physician tried freezing the lesions, believing them to be warts. That therapy provided no benefit. The patient found that filing down the plugs and lubricating them with white petrolatum helped during the symptomatic phase.

The patient was married, with no history of sexually transmitted diseases or significant occupational exposures. She did take medication to control her hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hypothyroidism. However, the problem with her hands predated taking these medications. There was no personal or family history of skin malignancy. The remainder of the skin examination was unremarkable.

Lesions on left palm

Overview of lesions on the patient’s left palm. Right palm has similar lesions. No similar lesions are found elsewhere.

Lateral view

Laterial view of the dermatosis on the left hand. The patient has been filing the plugs and lubricating them with petrolatum.

What is your diagnosis?


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