Piotr Nikolsky

Piotr Vasiliyevich Nikolskiy (1858-1940)

Piotr Vasiliyevich Nikolskiy Петро Васильович Нікольський (1858-1940) was a Russian dermatologist

Nikolskiy published the first dermatological textbook of the USSR and published extensively on the history of dermatology in Russia

Eponymously remembered for his description of Nikolskiy sign in blistering dermatoses

  • Born on September 1, 1858 in Usman, Tambov province, Russia
  • 1877 – Commenced medical studies at University of Moscow, but transferred to St. Vladimir University in Kiev after a year.
  • 1884 – Graduated medicine from St. Vladimir University; became assistant to Mikhail Ivanovich Stukovenkov, a student of Hebra, at the dermatology clinic in Kiev.
  • 1894 – Provided first public description of the Nikolskiy sign at the Fifth Meeting of Russian Physicians.
  • 1896 – Completed his dissertation on pemphigus foliaceus with 5 own patients and 17 descriptions from the literature
  • 1898-1915 Professor and Head of the Department of Dermatology at Warsaw University School of Medicine. As a result of the world war, the Russian part of the University of Warsaw was moved to Rostov-on-Don (in present-day Ukraine).
  • 1915-1930 Professor and head of the department of Dermatology and Venereology at the University School of Medicine in Rostov-on-Don, Russia
  • Died 1940

Medical Eponyms
Nikolsky sign (1894)

1894 – Nikolskiy gave his first public description of the mechanically induced detachment of the epidermal layer in a woman with pemphigus foliaceus, at the Fifth Meeting of Russian Physicians. Nikolskiy noticed a separation of clinically normal palmar skin in the patient after she had forcefully leaned on the scale platform as she slipped off the scale during her weight check.

1896 – Nikolskiy published his doctoral thesis and in subsequent publications presentations he
described 3 variants of the skin fragility phenomenon:

  1. the ability to remove the horny layer of skin far beyond the preexisting erosion, extending to a great distance on the normal-appearing skin, by pulling the remnant of a roof of a ruptured blister;
  2. the ability to remove large strips of horny layer from visibly normal skin areas at the periphery of existing lesions by lateral pressure with a finger; and
  3. the ability to dislodge the horny layer of normalappearing skin, revealing the moist surface of the underlying layer.

The Nikolskiy sign was made internationally known by Danlos (1900) and Dubreuilh (1901)

Ce fut le Prof. Stukovenkov qui le premier diagnostiqua un cas de pemphigus foliaceus Cazenave et ce fut sur 5 cas de cette maladie que je basai ma dissertation, dans laquelle j’étudiai le symptome de cette affection—instabilité de la couche cornée (diminution de Tadherence entre les couches épidermiques)—qui plus tard fut universellement connu sous le nom de signe de Nikolsky

Nikolskiy 1894

It was Prof. Stukovenkov who first diagnosed a case of pemphigus foliaceus Cazenave and it was on 5 cases of this disease that I based my dissertation, in which I studied the symptom of this condition – instability of the stratum corneum (decrease in adherence between the epidermal layers) – which later was universally known as Nikolsky’s sign.

Nikolskiy 1894

Major Publications


The correct spelling is Nikolskiy, rather than the more commonly written Nikolsky. If the transliteration is done specifically, both “I’s” are printed, the normal and the “Y Grec.” In Cyrillic [Нікольський], his name reads NIKOL:SKIJ and is pronounced in Russian with a soft “L”.

In relation to his date of death…

Available biographical sources failed to disclose any date of death. The New York Offices of the government of the USSR were not helpful. It is assumed that Dr Nikolsky is dead.

Goodman 1953



Eponymous terms


BSc, MD from University of Western Australia. Junior Doctor currently working at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

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 |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.