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Local reactions to tick bites.

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Abstract

A retrospective histological and immunohistochemical study has been carried out in 25 cases of tick bites recorded in our Departments. The samples that included an attached tick showed a cement cone anchoring the mouthparts to the skin and a blood-soaked, spongiform appearance of the superficial dermis, with a mild neutrophilic and eosinophilic infiltration. The vessels displayed a loose multilayered endothelial proliferation, with plump endothelia, permeated with erythrocytes. A few of them were severed, allowing copious blood extravasation. The established lesions included the following: erythema chronicum migrans-like cases, foreign body granulomas-sometimes containing remnants of the mouthparts-cutaneous lymphoid hyperplasia, either of the T-cell or the B-cell type, and tick-bite alopecia. In both the T-cell and B-cell pseudolymphomas, several vessels showed concentric endothelial and perithelial proliferation similar to that seen in the acute lesions. In the tick-bite alopecia, a lymphocytic infiltrate attacked the permanent portion of the hair follicles, whose reaction was a noticeable hyperplasia of the fibrous sheaths, although only a minority of the hairs was destroyed. The observed alterations are specific in the acute lesions and in the alopecia, where they directly arise as a result of the interactions between the host’s tissues and the antihemostatic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory chemicals contained in the tick saliva. In the other lesions, the changes seem less characteristic, although the fragments of mouthparts and the special vascular changes provide a clue to their etiology.

Am J Dermatopathol. 2008 Jun;30(3):241-8. doi: 10.1097/DAD.0b013e3181676b60.

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