Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD) is a rare, granulomatous inflammatory skin disease of unknown origin, sometimes associated with diabetes mellitus. Skin lesions usually develop on the lower extremities and can progress toward ulceration and scarring. Many treatments have been proposed, but few have demonstrated consistent efficacy, and no standard regimens have emerged to date.
An 84-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus presented with a 3-year history of chronic right-lower-extremity erythematous papules and plaques that had developed into confluent ulcers with prominent granulation tissue and an orange-yellow hue. The results of a biopsy of the lesion was consistent with a diagnosis of NLD. The wound did not respond to 4 months of intensive local wound care. After the first intravenous infusion of infliximab (5 mg/kg), there was rapid reduction in wound size, pain, and drainage. There was complete wound healing with excellent cosmesis at 6 weeks (total of 3 infusions).
Infliximab should be considered in the treatment of refractory, ulcerative NLD. Its anti–tumor necrosis factor activity may underlie its efficacy in targeting this granulomatous process, and further investigation should be undertaken to confirm these results.