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Sulzberger-Garbe syndrome

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A syndrome of chronic exudative discoid and lichenoid dermatitis and a severe, nocturnal pruritus (constant feature). The skin eruption is extremely itchy. The areas chiefly involved are the genitalia, crusting plaques on the penis, scaly lesions on the, scrotum, the breast, the mouth, cutis anserina, chills, pain, and a burning sensation.

It occurs chiefly in middle-aged Jewish males but has also been observed in non-Jewish men and in women. In the original report, all patients were of Jewish extraction and in the fourth or fifth decade of life. By many writers believed to be psychogenic. Affected patients have been described as neurotic, hyperkinetic, and cyclothymic. The condition runs a non-fatal self-limited course.

Sulzberger and Garbe described four distinct phases: 1) exudative and discoid plaques, 2) lichenified phase of papules, 3) premycotic phase, and 4) urticarial phase. Onset is usually sudden, although the generalized eruption is sometimes preceded by a circumscribed dermatitis.

Thomas Savill in 1891 described epidemic exfoliative dermatitis. Sulzberger and Wilhelm Garbe first described this condition in 1937. Schneider and Kesten in 1948 applied the term “polymorphic prurigo.” Numerous cases have been reported.


  • T. Savill:
    On an epidemic skin disease.
    British Medical Journal, London, 1891, 2: 1197-1202.
  • M. B. Sulzberger, W. Garbe:
    Nine cases of a distinctive exudative discoid and lichenoid chronic dermatosis.
    Archives of Dermatology, Chicago, 1937, 36: 247-278.

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