Though the skin is affected in sarcoidosis in about one-third of cases, granulomatous tattoo reactions are an unusual manifestation of the disease. It is important phenomenon to recognize, as it frequently leads to the diagnosis of systemic sarcoidosis.
A 35-year-old Caucasian female with multiple tattoos presented with a 5-week history of tenderness of the black dye in a tattoo depicting a dragon. She also described a 15-month history of fatigue, polyarthralgia, and mild dyspnea. Skin biopsy demonstrated multiple dermal non-caseating granulomata with associated tattoo ink. Further investigation revealed the presence of systemic sarcoidosis. Her symptoms and skin changes improved with conservative management.
Sarcoidal tattoo reactions in those without systemic sarcoidosis are a rare occurrence, and their presence should prompt a search for systemic involvement. The accurate identification of skin involvement in sarcoidosis is important, as it tends to occur early in the course of disease, and the skin is a readily accessible site for biopsy, allowing for prompt diagnosis.