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Skin lesions in the returning traveler

Mary Elizabeth Wilson, MD
Section Editor
Karin Leder, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, MPH, DTMH
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Skin lesions are a common reason for returned travelers to seek medical evaluation (table 1). Among more than 17,000 ill returned travelers evaluated at one of the 30 GeoSentinel travel clinics worldwide, dermatologic disorders were the third most common problem (after systemic febrile illness and acute diarrhea) [1]. In another study of GeoSentinel network data including more than 25,000 patients evaluated following travel, a skin-related diagnosis was reported in 18 percent of patients [2].

The causes, manifestations, and diagnosis of skin lesions in the returned traveler will be reviewed here [3].


The differential diagnosis for skin lesions that occur during or after travel is broad and includes infections due to pathogenic organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, helminths, protozoa), arthropod bites and infestations, allergic and hypersensitivity reactions [4], injury by chemicals and ultraviolet light, and trauma [5,6]. Among 269 patients in France with travel-associated skin problems, the most common diagnoses were [7]:

Cutaneous larva migrans – 25 percent

Pyoderma – 18 percent


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jul 21, 2015.
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