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Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Degos disease

Degos disease, also known as malignant atrophic papulosis is a rare disorder. It generally occurs in young Caucasian adults.

Degos disease affects the lining of the small blood vessels resulting in occlusion (blockage). The blood vessels affected include those supplying the skin, gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system.

Degos scar
Multiple lesions
New lesions
Degos disease

What is the cause of Degos disease?

The underlying cause of the occlusion of the blood vessels in Degos disease is unknown. Three possible mechanisms are:

What are its features?

Skin lesions are the characteristic feature of Degos disease. The lesions are usually multiple and occur predominantly on the trunk and arms. They usually start as small red raised spots of 2-5mm in diameter. After a few days they enlarge and develop a central white spot that is depressed in comparison to the red skin around it. They heal leaving depressed porcelain-white scars.

Gastrointestinal complications result from lack of blood supply to the lining of the gut and may lead to serious complications like perforation of the bowel. The usual symptoms are sudden onset of abdominal pain or gastrointestinal bleeding (vomiting blood or passing blood with the bowel motion).

Involvement of the nervous system can lead to strokes, headaches, epilepsy or non-specific neurological symptoms like memory loss or altered sensation.

Other organs can also be involved such as eyes, kidneys, heart and liver.


Degos disease is generally regarded as serious because it leads to involvement of multiple organs resulting in death within 2-3 years. But in some cases it remains limited to skin involvement and appears benign (harmless).


There is no known successful therapy. Anti-platelet drugs like aspirin and dipyridamole may reduce the number of new lesions in some patients with only skin involvement.

Related information

Other websites:

Author: Dr Darshan Singh MBChB, Registrar, Department of Dermatology, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand.

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