Wells syndrome, an uncommon inflammatory dermatosis, is characterized by protean cutaneous manifestations, suggestive but not specific histopathologic findings, and usually a recurrent course. Because of its original description as a distinct entity, it has come to be regarded as an abnormal eosinophilic response to a number of causative agents.
The medical records of 19 patients (12 adults and 7 children) with Wells syndrome referred to the Institute of Dermatological Sciences from 1990 to 2005 were evaluated for the type and prevalence of skin lesions, clinical course and response to treatment, and possibly associated systemic symptoms, as well as histologic, laboratory, and immunofluorescence findings. The classic plaque-type variant proved to be the most common presentation in children but not in adults, who more frequently had the annular granuloma–like variant. Unilesional forms were found to occur more frequently in children. The course was recurrent, although slowly progressing, with a mean duration of disease of 5 years for adults and 3 years for children.
We emphasize the concept that the diagnosis of Wells syndrome is a clinicopathologic diagnosis. Although it should be classified within a spectrum that includes multisystem eosinophilic disorders, such as Churg-Strauss and hypereosinophilic syndromes, Wells syndrome, which has 7 variants, is a distinct cutaneous disease lacking systemic involvement.