Approach to skin and soft tissue infections in non-HIV immunocompromised hosts

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Purpose of review

Skin and soft tissue infections are frequent contributors to morbidity and mortality in the immunocompromised host. This article reviews the changing epidemiology and clinical manifestations of the most common cutaneous pathogens in non-HIV immunocompromised hosts, including patients with solid organ transplants, stem cell transplants, solid tumors, hematologic malignancies, and receiving chronic immunosuppressive therapy for inflammatory disorders.

Recent findings

Defects in the innate or adaptive immune response can predispose the immunocompromised host to certain cutaneous infections in a predictive fashion. Cutaneous lesions in patients with neutrophil defects are commonly due to bacteria, Candida, or invasive molds. Skin lesions in patients with cellular or humoral immunodeficiencies can be due to encapsulated bacteria, Nocardia, mycobacteria, endemic fungal infections, herpesviruses, or parasites. Skin lesions may reflect primary inoculation or, more commonly, disseminated infection. Tissue samples for microscopy, culture, and histopathology are critical to making an accurate diagnosis given the nonspecific and heterogeneous appearance of these skin lesions due to a blunted immune response.


As the population of non-HIV immunosuppressed hosts expands with advances in medical therapies, the frequency and variety of cutaneous diseases in these hosts will increase.

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