“Cupping” With Pain


A 30-year-old woman with a history of chronic overexposure to UV light presents to dermatology for a routine skin exam. The patient has a history of poor toleration to UV light, especially as a child, but participated in regular tanning as a teen. However, she stopped tanning when her sister developed a melanoma.

Additionally, the patient has been experiencing upper back pain, for which she has seen a variety of providers. Most recently, she consulted a naturopath, who recommended cupping therapy. Although the patient believes the therapy is alleviating her pain, she is distressed by the subsequent formation of large blemishes on her back and asks about possible treatment.

“Cupping” With Pain

There are 10 large round patches, each measuring 7 cm in diameter, on the patient’s back. These patches consist of multiple petechiae and brown hyperpigmentation. On palpation, there is no surface disturbance or tenderness. The discoloration is nonblanchable. The size, shape, and configuration of the lesions is consistent with the patient's description of the cupping procedures she has undergone on several occasions.

Notably, the patient's skin is categorized as type II on the Fitzpatrick scale, with advanced dermatoheliosis.

What’s the diagnosis?


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