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Cancer Health Center

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Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH)


The cause of LCH is not known.

The signs and symptoms of LCH depend on where it is in the body.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by LCH or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you or your child have any of the following:

Skin and nails

LCH in infants may affect the skin only. In some cases, skin-only LCH may get worse over weeks or months and become a form called high-risk multisystem LCH.

In infants, signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the skin may include:

  • Flaking of the scalp that may look like "cradle cap".
  • Raised, brown or purple skin rash anywhere on the body.

In children and adults, signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the skin and nails may include:

  • Flaking of the scalp that may look like dandruff.
  • Raised, red or brown, crusted rash in the groin area, abdomen, back, or chest, that may be itchy.
  • Bumps or ulcers on the scalp.
  • Ulcers behind the ears, under the breasts, or in the groin area.
  • Fingernails that fall off or have discolored grooves that run the length of the nail.


Signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the mouth may include:


Signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the bone may include:

  • Swelling or a lump over a bone, such as the skull, ribs, spine, thigh bone, upper arm bone, elbow, eye socket, or bones around the ear.
  • Pain where there is swelling or a lump over a bone.

Children with LCH lesions in bones around the ears or eyes have a high risk for diabetes insipidus and other central nervous system disease.

Lymph nodes and thymus

Signs or symptoms of LCH that affects the lymph nodes or thymus may include:

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