Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size
Users Online: 2404
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents 
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 485-487  

Reversible ecchymosis and hyperpigmented lesions: A rare presentation of dietary Vitamin B12 deficiency

Department of Medicine, Dr. S.N. Medical College, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Date of Web Publication18-Oct-2016

Correspondence Address:
Hans Raj Pahadiya
Department of Medicine, Dr. S.N. Medical College, Jodhpur - 342 001, Rajasthan
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.192343

Rights and Permissions

A 40-year-old male presented because of generalized weakness, fatigability, and hyperpigmentation with ecchymosis, he was diagnosed to have dietary Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. The hyperpigmentation and ecchymosis lesions resolved after Vitamin B12 supplementation. Beside hyperpigmented lesion on the skin, the presence of ecchymosis is a very rare manifestation of the disease. Thrombocytopenia in Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia rarely leads to ecchymosis.

Keywords: Ecchymosis, hyperpigmentation, Vitamin B12 deficiency

How to cite this article:
Pahadiya HR, Lakhotia M, Choudhary S, Prajapati GR, Pradhan S. Reversible ecchymosis and hyperpigmented lesions: A rare presentation of dietary Vitamin B12 deficiency. J Family Med Prim Care 2016;5:485-7

How to cite this URL:
Pahadiya HR, Lakhotia M, Choudhary S, Prajapati GR, Pradhan S. Reversible ecchymosis and hyperpigmented lesions: A rare presentation of dietary Vitamin B12 deficiency. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 May 14];5:485-7. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2016/5/2/485/192343

  Introduction Top

In developing countries like India, nutritional deficiencies are prevalent, among them, the Vitamin B12 deficiency is now recognized as a common public health problem. The pure vegetarian individuals are more prone for developing dietary Vitamin B12 deficiency. The common presenting features of Vitamin B12 deficiency are because of involvement of hematologic, gastrointestinal, nervous, and rarely cutaneous systems. The cutaneous symptoms of disease are rare, these include vitiligo, angular glossitis, hyperpigmented lesions of the skin, sparse hypopigmented hairs, and hemorrhages.[1],[2] The hyperpigmentation in Vitamin B12 deficiency is explained because of increased melanin synthesis. The presence of thrombocytopenia in Vitamin B12 deficiency is common finding because of dyshemopoietic in the bone marrow. Hyperpigmentation along with ecchymosis as the first presentation of Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare. We report a 40-year-old pure vegetarian male with hyperpigmentation lesions and ecchymosis on skin because of Vitamin B12 deficiency. These hyperpigmentation improved with Vitamin B12 supplementation.

  Case Report Top

A 40-year-old vegetarian Hindu male presented with complaints of hyperpigmented macules predominantly over legs. He also had a history of fatigability, lethargy, and exertional breathlessness for 1 month. He denied muscle aches, abdominal pain, joint pain, fever, trauma, or blood loss from any site in the body. There was no history of chronic illness, drug intake, surgery, or bleeding disorder in his family. The vital parameters were stable. The conjunctiva was pale. There was no organomegaly and lymphadenopathy. Skin examination revealed multiple, diffuse, ecchymosed lesion scattered predominantly on the lower extremities [Figure 1]a,[Figure 1]b,[Figure 1]c,[Figure 1]d. His hemogram showed hemoglobin of 9.7 g/dL, leukocytes 6120/mm [3] (neutrophils 76.2%; lymphocytes 16%; monocytes 7.5%), platelets 169,000/mm [3], mean corpuscular volume 87.8 fL, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin was 30.4 pg. The peripheral blood film (PBF) showed few normochromic macrocytoses, hypersegmented neutrophils, and thrombocytopenia. The Vitamin B12 level was 272 pg/mL (normal range 211–911 pg/mL), serum lactate dehydrogenase 1250 IU/L, and serum bilirubin was 2.43 mg/dL. The bone marrow aspiration revealed megaloblastic erythropoiesis [Figure 2]. The antinuclear antibody and Coombs test were negative. The coagulation profile and iron profile were within normal limit. Renal function tests, urinalysis, and electrolytes were within normal limit. Gastroscopy, electrocardiograph, ultrasonography of abdomen, and chest X-ray did not reveal any significant abnormality. He was treated with intramuscular hydroxocobalamin 1000 µg daily for 5 days, after that alternate day for a week, and thereafter weekly for 1 month. At the follow-up of 1 month, his hematological parameters were within normal limits and ecchymosis disappeared.
Figure 1: (a-d) Hyperpigmented ecchymosis lesions

Click here to view
Figure 2: (a and b) Bone marrow aspiration picture showing megaloblastic cells

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

The Vitamin B12 deficiency has a varied presentation of symptoms and affects all age groups. The common presenting features of Vitamin B12 deficiency are because of involvement of hematologic, gastrointestinal, nervous, and rarely cutaneous systems. The symptoms because of anemia are fatigability, lethargy, and exertional breathlessness. The neurological symptoms include optic atrophy, ataxia, subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord, dementia, and rarely psychosis.[1] The mucocutaneous manifestations of Vitamin B12 deficiency are less common. The cutaneous manifestations of Vitamin B12 deficiency are skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, angular glossitis, and sparse lustreless hypopigmented hairs. These manifestations are reversible after the Vitamin B12 supplementation.[2],[3] A hypothesis explained hyperpigmentation in Vitamin B12 deficiency due to increase synthesis of melanin with increased melanosomes in the basal layer of skin by decreasing the level of reduced glutathione, which activates tyrosinase and thus leads to transfer to melanosomes; a defect is also described in the melanin transfer between melanocytes and keratinocytes, resulting in pigmentary incontinence.[4],[5] The patients with nutritional Vitamin B12 deficiency also had bleeding manifestations and qualitative abnormalities of platelets, i.e., abnormal aggregation to adenosine diphosphate, collagen, epinephrine, and ristocetin.[6]

Smith et al.[7] reported nine cases of hemorrhagic emergencies attributable to thrombocytopenia associated with various forms of megaloblastic anemia. After blood transfusion and supplementation of Vitamin B12 or folic acid therapy all responded well. The presence of thrombocytopenia is widely recognized as part of the dyshemopoietic pattern in megaloblastic anemia. The possible presentation of a megaloblastic anemia as a hemorrhagic diathesis is explained by thrombocytopenia.

We assume that these ecchymosed lesions might be due to chronic microhemorrhages in the superficial layer of skin because of thrombocytopenia in this patient. To conclude, a patient presenting with cutaneous ecchymosis and hyperpigmentation having pallor and PBF showing macrocytic erythrocytes should be evaluated for Vitamin B12 deficiency and early Vitamin B12 supplementation should be installed to prevent further serious complications of the disease. We report this case to highlight the rare presenting feature of the Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Oh R, Brown DL. Vitamin B12 deficiency. Am Fam Physician 2003;67:979-86.  Back to cited text no. 1
Aaron S, Kumar S, Vijayan J, Jacob J, Alexander M, Gnanamuthu C. Clinical and laboratory features and response to treatment in patients presenting with Vitamin B12 deficiency-related neurological syndromes. Neurol India 2005;53:55-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Santra G, Paul R, Ghosh SK, Chakraborty D, Das S, Pradhan S, et al. Generalised hyperpigmentation in Vitamin B12 deficiency. J Assoc Physicians India 2014;62:714-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mori K, Ando I, Kukita A. Generalized hyperpigmentation of the skin due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. J Dermatol 2001;28:282-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
Agrawala RK, Sahoo SK, Choudhury AK, Mohanty BK, Baliarsinha AK. Pigmentation in Vitamin B12 deficiency masquerading Addison's pigmentation: A rare presentation. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2013;17 Suppl 1:S254-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Ghosh K, Krishna V, Mohanty D. Platelet dysfunction in nutritional Vitamin B12 deficiency. Platelets 1991;2:153-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Smith MD, Smith DA, Fletcher M. Haemorrhage associated with thrombocytopenia in megaloblastic anaemia. Br Med J 1962;1:982-5.  Back to cited text no. 7


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Skin hyperpigmentation: a rare presenting symptom of nitrous oxide abuse
Xiuying Fang,Weishuai Li,Han Gao,Ying Ma,Xiaoyu Dong,Dongming Zheng
Clinical Toxicology. 2019; : 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Clinical or ATPase domain mutations in ABCD4 disrupt the interaction between the vitamin B12-trafficking proteins ABCD4 and LMBD1
Victoria Fettelschoss,Patricie Burda,Corinne Sagné,David Coelho,Corinne De Laet,Seraina Lutz,Terttu Suormala,Brian Fowler,Nicolas Pietrancosta,Bruno Gasnier,Beat Bornhauser,D. Sean Froese,Matthias R. Baumgartner
Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2017; 292(28): 11980
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
  Case Report
   Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded154    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal