What Is Poikiloderma Of Civatte

  • Jennifer Grace Biomedical Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK
  • Jialu Li Master of Science in Language Sciences (Neuroscience) UCL


Poikiloderma of Civatte, a dermatological condition named after the French dermatologist Dr. François Henri Jacques Civatte, manifests as a distinctive pattern of discolouration and textural changes primarily on the neck and sometimes the face. First described in the early 20th century, this condition is prevalent among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Its key features include a combination of redness (erythema), brown pigmentation (hyperpigmentation), and areas of paleness (hypopigmentation). By examining its definition and historical context, we can lay the groundwork for a comprehensive exploration of the causes, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment options, and the impact it can have on affected individuals.

Causes and risk factors of Poikiloderma of Civatte

Sun exposure

Poikiloderma of Civatte has been strongly linked to prolonged sun exposure, emphasizing the significance of ultraviolet radiation in its development.1

Age and hormonal factors

The condition is more commonly observed in middle-aged and elderly individuals, and hormonal changes such as menopause may contribute to its onset.2

Genetic predisposition

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition, making them more susceptible to developing Poikiloderma of Civatte.3

Other potential triggers

Beyond sun exposure and age, other factors, such as certain skincare products or medications, may contribute to the development of this skin condition.3

Clinical presentation 

Skin changes

The hallmark features of Poikiloderma of Civatte include a distinct combination of redness, brown pigmentation, and areas of paleness, creating a unique and identifiable pattern.2

Common locations on the body

While the neck is the primary site, the condition may also affect the face, presenting a challenge in diagnosis and management.2

Variations in severity

The severity of symptoms can vary, with some individuals experiencing milder forms of discolouration and others facing more pronounced changes in skin texture.1


The diagnosis of Poikiloderma of Civatte involves a multifaceted approach to accurately identify and differentiate it from other dermatological conditions.4

Clinical examination

Dermatologists typically begin with a thorough clinical examination, assessing the characteristic skin changes, distribution, and severity of symptoms. The unique combination of erythema, hyperpigmentation, and hypopigmentation aids in the diagnosis.4

Dermoscopy and imaging techniques

Dermoscopy, a non-invasive technique using a handled device to magnify the skin, can provide additional insights into the skin changes associated with the Poikiloderma of Civatte. Imaging techniques, such as reflectance confocal microscopy, may be employed for more detailed examinations.3

Biopsy and histopathological analysis

In certain cases, a skin biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy involves the removal of a small sample of affected skin tissue, which is then analyzed under a microscope. The histopathological examination helps rule out other skin conditions with similar presentations.4

The combination of clinical examination, dermoscopy, and histopathological analysis enhances the accuracy of the diagnosis and allows for a more tailored and effective approach to treatment.

Differential diagnosis

Distinguishing from other dermatological conditions

Poikiloderma of Civatte shares similarities with other skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis or certain autoimmune disorders. Careful consideration of the unique features and patterns specific to Poikiloderma of Civatte is crucial in distinguishing it from other dermatological entities.4

Similarities with other skin disorders

Conditions like rosacea or chronic sun damage may exhibit overlapping features with poikiloderma of Civatte, necessitating a thorough evaluation to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The differentiation is vital for prescribing appropriate and targeted treatment strategies.4

By addressing the potential confusion with other skin conditions, healthcare professionals can provide patients with precise diagnoses and personalized care plans.

Treatment options

There is no specific treatment for poikiloderma of Civatte. However, addressing the poikiloderma of Civatte involves a multifaceted approach, considering both the cosmetic and medical aspects of the condition.

Topical therapies

Topical treatments play a key role in managing the poikiloderma of Civatte. These may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, depigmenting agents to address hyperpigmentation, and moisturizers to alleviate dryness. However, the effectiveness of topical therapies can vary among individuals, and long-term use may be required for sustained benefits.1 

Laser and light-based treatments

Laser therapy, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) or laser resurfacing, has shown promise in treating the vascular and pigmented components of the poikiloderma of Civatte. These procedures target specific skin concerns, promoting a more even skin tone and texture. However, the choice of laser therapy depends on the individual’s skin type and the extent of the condition.5

Cosmetic camouflage

For individuals seeking immediate improvement in the appearance of affected areas, cosmetic camouflage options, such as concealers or tinted moisturizers, can be beneficial. While not a permanent resolution, these products can help boost confidence and reduce the visibility of skin changes.5

Lifestyle modifications

Lifestyle adjustments, particularly sun protection measures, are crucial in managing the Poikiloderma of Civatte. Patents are often advised to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with high SPF, wear protective clothing, and avoid excessive sun exposure, as ultraviolet radiation can exacerbate the condition.1

The selection of treatment options depends on various factors, including the patient’s preferences, the severity of symptoms, and the presence of any underlying medical conditions. A personalised and holistic approach is often necessary for optimal outcomes.

Prognosis and complications

Long-term outlook

The prognosis for poikiloderma of Civatte is generally favourable, and the condition is not associated with significant health risks. However, the cosmetic aspects can impact an individual’s quality of life, highlighting the importance of effective management strategies.1

Potential complications

While poikiloderma of Civatte itself does not lead to severe complications, individuals may experience emotional distress or self-esteem issues due to the visible changes in their skin. Addressing this psychosocial aspect is essential for comprehensive care.1

Impact on quality of life

Understanding the potential impact on a patient’s well-being is crucial. Dermatologists and healthcare providers should consider the emotional and psychological aspects of living with poikiloderma of Civatte, offering support and guidance to enhance the overall quality of life for affected individuals.

By providing comprehensive information on prognosis, potential complications, and the impact on quality of life, healthcare professionals can empower patients to make informed decisions about their care and well-being.


Preventing poikiloderma of Civatte involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and proactive measures to minimize exposure to contributing factors.

Sun protection measures

Central to prevention is the diligent application of sun protection measures. This includes the regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, and seeking shade during peak sunlight hours. Educating individuals about the importance of consistent sun protection can significantly reduce the risk of developing or exacerbating poikiloderma of Civatte.4

Hormonal considerations

As hormonal changes may contribute to the development of poikiloderma of Civatte, particularly in women, addressing hormonal factors is a preventive consideration. This may involve discussions about hormonal therapies, especially for those at higher risk due to age or hormonal imbalance.1

Genetic counselling

For individuals with a family history of poikiloderma of Civatte or those with a genetic predisposition, genetic counselling becomes a valuable preventive strategy. Understanding familial patterns and potential risk factors can guide individuals in making informed decisions about their skincare and lifestyle choices.1

Understanding and implementing these preventive measures are crucial not only for those diagnosed with poikiloderma of Civatte but also for individuals at risk due to genetic factors, age, or hormonal changes. Prevention plays a vital role in reducing the prevalence and severity of this skin condition.

Patient education and support

Counseling on sun protection

Educating patients about the importance of consistent sun protection is a cornerstone of patient care. Dermatologists and healthcare providers should offer detailed guidance on the selection and proper application of sunscreens, emphasizing their role in preventing further skin damage and managing the poikiloderma of Civatte.1

Emotional and psychological support

Acknowledging the potential impact of visible skin changes on an individual’s emotional well-being is crucial. Offering emotional and psychological support is an integral part of patient care, addressing concerns related to self-esteem and body image. Support groups and counselling services can provide valuable resources for individuals navigating the emotional aspects of living with poikiloderma of Civatte.

Support group

Connecting patients with support groups and informational resources can foster a sense of community and empowerment. Sharing experiences with others who have faced similar challenges can provide comfort and valuable insights into coping strategies. Additionally, online and offline resources can offer up-to-date information on treatment options and ongoing research.

Patient education and support go beyond the clinical aspects of managing poikiloderma of Civatte, contributing significantly to the overall well-being of individuals affected by this skin condition. By addressing the physical and emotional aspects, healthcare providers can enhance the patient’s ability to cope with and manage the condition effectively.


Poikiloderma of Civatte, named after Dr. François Henri Jacques Civatte, is a dermatological condition characterized by distinctive skin discolouration and textural changes primarily on the neck and sometimes the face. Predominant among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Its key features include redness, brown pigmentation, and areas of paleness. The diagnosis involves a comprehensive approach, considering clinical examination, dermoscopy, imaging techniques, and biopsy. Treatment options, while lacking a specific cure, encompass topical therapies, laser treatments, cosmetic camouflage, and lifestyle modifications like sun protection. The prognosis is generally favourable, with minimal health risks, but the cosmetic impact emphasizes the need for effective management. Prevention strategies involve sun protection measures, addressing hormonal considerations, and genetic counselling. Patient education and support play a vital role in overall well-being, encompassing counselling on sun protection, emotional and psychological support, and connecting patients with support groups and resources. Understanding and implementing preventive measures are crucial for both diagnosed and at-risk individuals, contributing significantly to the effective management of the poikiloderma of Civatte.


  1. Poikiloderma of Civatte - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD) [Internet]. www.aocd.org. [cited 2023 Nov 23]. Available from: https://www.aocd.org/page/PoikilodermaofCiva#:~:text=Poikiloderma%20of%20Civatte%2C%20also%20known
  2. Poikiloderma of Civatte | DermNet NZ [Internet]. dermnetnz.org. Available from: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/poikiloderma-of-civatte
  3. Poikiloderma of Civatte: What It Is, Causes, Treatment & Prevention [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23090-poikiloderma-of-civatte
  4. Katoulis, A. C., Sgouros, D., Bozi, E., Pappa, G., Theotokoglou, S., Konstantinou, M. P., Voudouri, A., Voudouri, M., Theofili, M., Tzima, K., & Hofmann-Wellenhof, R. (2023). Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Poikiloderma of Civatte: A Dermoscopy Cohort Study. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, 13(1).https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.1301a7
  5. Poikiloderma of Civatte [Internet]. Dermatology Advisor. 2019 [cited 2023 Nov 23]. Available from: https://www.dermatologyadvisor.com/home/decision-support-in-medicine/dermatology/poikiloderma-of-civatte/#:~:text=Intense%20pulsed%20light%20(IPL)%20can
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jennifer Grace

Biomedical Sciences, The University of Manchester

My name is Jennifer Grace, and this September marks the beginning of my final year pursuing BSc. (Hons) Biomedical Science studies at the University of Manchester. Born in Indonesia, I embarked on a journey fueled by curiosity. From a young age, my passion for Biology and healthcare framework emerged, propelling my achievements of biological science. Driven by my ardour for scientific exploration, I have actively engaged with various organizations dedicated to environmental and healthcare frameworks. My commitment to advancing science found expression through my participation in the Klarity internship program as an article writer to improve my writing skills, especially scientific writing skills. With each step, I'm unflinchingly dedicated to blending my affection for science with a significant feeling of direction for my career.

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