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Epstein–Barr virus and skin manifestations in childhood


  • Conflicts of interest: None.


Vito Di Lernia, md

Unit of Dermatology

Arcispedale S. Maria Nuova-IRCCS

viale Risorgimento 80

42100 Reggio Emilia




Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a human B-lymphotropic herpes virus and one of the most common viruses in humans. Specific skin signs related to EBV infection are the exanthem of mononucleosis, which is observed more frequently after ingestion of amoxicillin, and oral hairy leukoplakia, a disease occurring mostly in immunocompromised subjects with HIV infection. Other more uncommon cutaneous disorders that have been associated with EBV infection include virus-related exanthems or diseases such as Gianotti–Crosti syndrome, erythema multiforme, and acute genital ulcers. Other skin manifestations, not correlated to virus infection, such as hydroa vacciniforme and drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome have also been linked to EBV. The putative involvement of EBV in skin diseases is growing similarly to other areas of medicine, where the role of EBV infection is being investigated in potentially debilitating inflammatory diseases. The prognosis of EBV infection in healthy, immunocompetent individuals is excellent. However, lifelong infection, which is kept in check by the host immune system, determines an unpredictable risk of pathologic unpredictable scenarios. In this review, we describe the spectrum of non-tumoral dermatological manifestations that can follow EBV primary infection or reactivation of EBV in childhood.