Nikolsky’s Sign

Other Known Aliasesnone

DefinitionExfoliation of the outermost layer and elicitation of blistering as a result of gentle mechanical pressure on the skin

Clinical Significance This sign is classically associated with pemphigus vulgaris and is used to differentiate vulgaris (where it is present) and bullous (where it is absent). It is also present in Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, and scalded skin syndrome.

HistoryNamed after Pyotr Vaseilyevich Nikolsky (1858-1940), who was a Russian dermatologist and received his medical doctorate from the Saint Vladimir Imperial University of Kiev in 1884. His doctoral dissertation and thesis was on pemphigus foliaceus, where he described his now famous eponym. He went on to have a career in academic medicine becoming professor at the Imperial University of Warsaw and establishing the Department of Dermatology and Venerology at the future Southern Federal University.


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. Grando SA, Grando AA, Glukhenky BT, Doguzov V, Nguyen VT, Holubar K. History and clinical significance of mechanical symptoms in blistering dermatoses: a reappraisal. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2003; 48(1):86-92. [pubmed]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s