Skin nontumor

Vesiculobullous and acantholytic reaction patterns

Transient acantholytic dermatosis

Editor-in-Chief: Debra L. Zynger, M.D.
Omar P. Sangueza, M.D.

Last author update: 20 December 2018
Last staff update: 14 July 2023

Copyright: 2019-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Transient acantholytic dermatosis [title]

Omar P. Sangueza, M.D.
Page views in 2022: 9,322
Page views in 2023 to date: 9,282
Cite this page: Aljarbou O, Sangueza OP. Transient acantholytic dermatosis. website. Accessed September 25th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Transient papulovesicular eruption on the trunk
  • Sporadic, reactive condition
  • Initially characterized by Grover in 1970 (Arch Dermatol 1970;101:426)
Essential features
  • Middle aged to elderly, white, mostly male patients
  • Multiple pruritic papulovesicular eruption
  • Pathologically can mimic other vesiculobullous disease and epithelial neoplasms
  • Correlation with clinical findings is essential
Clinical features
  • Pruritic papules, papulovesicles, plaques and bullae lesions
  • Lesions distributed mainly on the trunk and proximal extremities but rarely can appear on the scalp, on the face and in the mouth (these lesions resembled aphthae)
  • No systemic symptoms
Case reports
  • Treatment options include topical steroids, retinoids and vitamin D analogues and systemic steroids, retinoids and methotrexate
  • 5-aminolevulinic acid photodynamic therapy (ALA-PDT) shows rapid, dramatic improvement in symptoms, allowing for significant improvement in quality of life (Dermatol Surg 2013;39:960)
Clinical images

Contributed by Omar P. Sangueza, M.D. and Mark R. Wick, M.D.

Diffuse papular erythematous eruption involving the trunk

Erythematous, keratotic papules and plaques

Breast skin

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Suprabasal acantholysis with vesicle formation is the principal microscopic finding
  • Elongation of rete ridges with focal acantholysis and eosinophils may be the only early changes in Grover disease
  • Main 4 histopathological patterns are:
    • Pemphigus vulgaris / foliaceous-like: predominantly limited to suprabasal acantholysis, with basal keratinocytes attached to basement membrane forming a characteristic tombstone appearance
    • Darier-like: suprabasal acantholysis of keratinocytes with scattered apoptotic or dyskeratotic cells within various levels of the epidermis
    • Spongiotic: edema within epidermis, causing separation of keratinocytes and prominent intracellular bridges
    • Hailey-Hailey-like: suprabasal acantholysis of all levels of the epidermis without significant dyskeratosis (dilapidated brick wall appearance)
  • More than one pattern can be seen in the same setting
  • Other newly described histopathological pattern include: (Am J Dermatopathol 2010;32:541)
    • Porokeratotic: presence of oblique columns of parakeratosis over areas of epidermis devoid of granular layer, with occasional dyskeratotic cells in the upper epidermal layers and a tendency to basal vacuolization
    • Lentiginous: elongation of the rete ridges with some basal hyperpigmentation resembling a solar lentigo or Dowling-Degos disease
    • Vesicular: intraepidermal vesicles with minimal spongiosis or acantholysis on their sides
    • Lichenoid: vacuolar damage and slight lymphocytic infiltrate at the dermoepidermal junction, with occasional dyskeratosis and barely identifiable acantholysis
    • Dysmaturative: disordered keratinocyte maturation with nuclear pleomorphism and slight hyperchromasia (Am J Dermatopathol 2018;40:642)
    • Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis-like pattern (Am J Dermatopathol 2014;36:358)
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Omar P. Sangueza, M.D.

Suprabasal vesicle formation

Spongiotic pattern

Follicular induction

Atypical nuclei

Negative stains
Immunofluorescence description
Molecular / cytogenetics description
Differential diagnosis
Board review style question #1

A white, elderly male presented with multiple pruritic papule involving the trunk. Which of the following is true regarding the diagnosis of this lesion?

  1. Associated mucosal lesion is diagnostic
  2. ATP2A2 gene abnormality is a common finding
  3. Net pattern of IgG and C3 on direct immunofluorescence
  4. Sparing of acrosyringium can be a helpful feature
Board review style answer #1
D. Sparing of acrosyringium can be a helpful feature. Transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover disease) can mimic variable vesiculobullous entities, especially pemphigus vulgaris, Darier and Hailey-Hailey. Differentiation depends on clinical presentation, microscopic findings and direct immunofluorescence findings. One microscopic finding that can help to differentiate between pemphigus vulgaris and Grover disease is adnexal structure and acrosyringium involvement in the former.

Comment here

Reference: Transient acantholytic dermatosis
Board review style question #2
Which of the following case scenarios is typical for transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover disease)?

  1. 17 year old man with crusted popular lesions involving head and neck
  2. 20 year old woman with flaccid blisters involving the axillae and inframammary region
  3. 40 year old woman with oral blisters and flaccid bullae involving the trunk
  4. 60 year old man with erythematous papule involving the trunk
Board review style answer #2
D. 60 year old man with erythematous papule involving the trunk. Transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover disease) is most common in middle aged to elderly, Caucasian men. It most commonly manifest as a vesicular eruption of the trunk.

Comment here

Reference: Transient acantholytic dermatosis
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02