Alan Lyell

Alan Lyell (1917-1917)

Alan Lyell (1917-2007) was a Scottish Dermatologist.

In 1956, Lyell described four patients he had treated, over a period of seven years, in Cambridge, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. All appeared to have been scalded though none had experienced any extreme of temperature. He named the condition toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Introduced the neologism ‘necrolysis‘ to dermatological parlance

  • Born 4 November 1917, India
  • 1918 – Arrived in England following the death of his mother from puerperal fever shortly after his birth
  • 1936 – Medical school Pembroke College, Cambridge University
  • 1939 – St. Thomas’s Hospital in London.
  • 1942 – MRCS; LRCP and MB (Cambridge)
  • Regimental Medical Officer (11th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry) in Normandy with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)
  • 1944 – Invalided from war with ‘friendly fire’ knee injury
  • 1946 – Dermatology training St Thomas’s and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
  • 1951 – MRCP Edin, FRCP Edin (1962)
  • Died 2 November 2007, Erskine

Medical Eponyms

Lyell Syndrome (1956) aka Toxic epidermal necrolysis

Major Publications
  • Lyell A. Toxic epidermal necrolysis: An eruption resembling scalding of the skin. Br J Dermatol. 1956;68:355–61 [PMID 13374196]
  • Lyell A. The staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome in historical perspective: emergence of dermopathic strains of Staphylococcus aureus and discovery of the epidermolytic toxin. A review of events up to 1970. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1983 Aug;9(2):285-94. [PMID 6350386]
  • Lyell A. Delusions of parasitosis. British Journal of Dermatology, 1983; 108: 485–99. [Ekbom syndrome II]
  • Lyell A. Requiem for toxic epidermal necrolysis. Br J Dermatol 1990; 122: 837. [PMID 2369562]
  • Lyell A. Drug-induced toxic epidermal necrolysis. I. An overview. Clin Dermatol. 1993 Oct-Dec;11(4):491-2. [PMID 8124637]
  • Lyell A. Recollections of Dermatology and Some Dermatologists. 1998. Scottish Dermatological Society

  • Revuz J.Alan Lyell and Lyell’s syndrome. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Aug;22(8):1001-2. [PMID 18384542]
  • McFadyen T, Douglas S. Alan Lyell MD (Cantab), FRCP (Ed), FRCP (Glas). Clin Dermatol. 2008 Sep-Oct;26(5):575080. [PMID 19112692]
  • Holubar K. [In Memoriam: Alan Lyell 1917-2007] J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2008 May;6(5):421-2 [PMID 18445243]
  • Obituary: Alan Lyell. Dermatology 2008;216:280
  • Dr Alan Lyell, FRCP Edin. RCP Edinburgh
  • Dr Alan Lyell. The Scotsman. 2007 Dec 06.


the person behind the name

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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