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Reticular erythematous mucinosis
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Reticular erythematous mucinosis

Contributors: Vivian Wong MD, PhD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Reticular erythematous mucinosis (REM) is an uncommon condition in which there is gradual dermal mucin deposition that usually occurs on the mid-chest and back. It occasionally spreads to involve the upper abdomen, neck, and breasts. While the condition favors women in the third and fourth decades of life, it has been reported in men and children. There is no predominant ethnicity or race affected.

Lesions manifest as midline confluent erythematous papules and plaques forming a reticular (net-like) configuration. REM appears to be a disorder of photosensitivity, as a preceding history of intense sun exposure is often elicited. Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) both appear to provoke lesions, and further sun exposure usually worsens the condition. In addition, heat, perspiration, and radiation may exacerbate REM. Hormonal influences also seem to play an etiologic role, as oral contraceptives, menses, and pregnancy have been reported to trigger and exacerbate it.

While REM is thought to be limited to the skin, approximately 20% of cases may have systemic comorbidities, such as thrombocytopenia, diabetes mellitus, malignancies, and thyroid disease. Lupus serology is positive only in a small percentage of patients.

Plaque-like cutaneous mucinosis is considered synonymous with REM or is considered to belong to a spectrum of midline mucinosis. Clinically, it is more likely to present as erythematous infiltrated papules and plaques occurring over the midline of the back and chest.


L98.5 – Mucinosis of the skin

238946004 – Reticular erythematous mucinosis

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Tumid lupus erythematosus – Chronic cutaneous lupus variant with erythematous to violaceous papules, plaques, and nodules. The lesions lack the reticulate quality of REM. Tumid lupus most often arises on the face, extensor forearms, shoulders, V-neck of chest, and back. There is considerable overlap with REM as the condition is histologically identical, usually has negative serology, and is for the most part limited to the skin.
  • Cutaneous lupus mucinosis – Seen only in males of Japanese descent, it appears as skin-colored to red papules and nodules on the chest, giving the appearance of a lumpy chest. May precede or coincide with the development of Systemic lupus erythematosus, most often with renal and articular manifestations.
  • Confluent and reticulated papillomatosis – Reticulate hyperpigmentation of central chest; most often seen in adolescence. Lesions may be subtly papillated yet fail to have the infiltrated look / feel of REM and are more tan-brown than red.
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma – Two cases have been reported in which mycosis fungoides clinically mimicked REM.
  • Dermatomyositis – The "V" sign is erythema that occurs higher up on the chest in a "V" configuration.

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Last Reviewed:09/19/2018
Last Updated:10/15/2018
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Reticular erythematous mucinosis
A medical illustration showing key findings of Reticular erythematous mucinosis : Photosensitivity, Reticular configuration, Superior chest, Upper back
Clinical image of Reticular erythematous mucinosis - imageId=4769767. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Numerous discrete and confluent annular, arcuate, and polycyclic papules and plaques on the chest.'
Numerous discrete and confluent annular, arcuate, and polycyclic papules and plaques on the chest.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.