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Table 7. Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease (GVHD) Symptoms in the Skin, Nails, Scalp, and Body Haira

Organ or Site Diagnosticb Distinctivec Other Featuresd Common (Seen with Both Acute and Chronic GVHD)  
SkinPoikilodermaDepigmentationSweat impairmentPruritus
Lichen planus-like featuresIchthyosisErythema
Sclerotic featuresKeratosis pilarisMaculopapular rash
Morphea-like featuresHypopigmentation
Lichen sclerosus-like featuresHyperpigmentation
Longitudinal ridging, splitting, or brittle features
Pterygium unguis
Nail loss (usually symmetric; affects most nails)e
Scalp and body hairNew onset of scarring or nonscarring scalp alopecia (after recovery from chemoradiotherapy)Thinning scalp hair, typically patchy, coarse, or dull (not explained by endocrine or other causes)
Scaling, papulosquamous lesionsPremature gray hair

aReprinted from Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Volume 11 (Issue 12), Alexandra H. Filipovich, Daniel Weisdorf, Steven Pavletic, Gerard Socie, John R. Wingard, Stephanie J. Lee, Paul Martin, Jason Chien, Donna Przepiorka, Daniel Couriel, Edward W. Cowen, Patricia Dinndorf, Ann Farrell, Robert Hartzman, Jean Henslee-Downey, David Jacobsohn, George McDonald, Barbara Mittleman, J. Douglas Rizzo, Michael Robinson, Mark Schubert, Kirk Schultz, Howard Shulman, Maria Turner, Georgia Vogelsang, Mary E.D. Flowers, National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Project on Criteria for Clinical Trials in Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease: I. Diagnosis and Staging Working Group Report, Pages 945-956, Copyright 2005, with permission from American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Elsevier.[39]
bSufficient to establish the diagnosis of chronic GVHD.
cSeen in chronic GVHD, but insufficient alone to establish a diagnosis of chronic GVHD.
dCan be acknowledged as part of the chronic GVHD symptomatology if the diagnosis is confirmed.
eIn all cases, infection, drug effects, malignancy, or other causes must be excluded.
fDiagnosis of chronic GVHD requires biopsy or radiology confirmation (or Schirmer test for eyes).


  1. Filipovich AH, Weisdorf D, Pavletic S, et al.: National Institutes of Health consensus development project on criteria for clinical trials in chronic graft-versus-host disease: I. Diagnosis and staging working group report. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 11 (12): 945-56, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]