Skin disorders among travellers returning from tropical and non-tropical countries consulting a travel medicine clinic.
ABSTRACT To evaluate the causes and risks for imported skin disorders among travellers.
Data of 34,162 travellers returning from tropical and non-tropical countries and presenting at the outpatient travel medicine clinic of the University of Munich, Germany, between 1999 and 2009 were analyzed for this study. Of these, 12.2% were diagnosed with skin disorders.
Main destinations visited were Asia (40%), Africa (27%) and Latin America (21%). Tourism in the form of adventure travel/backpacking (47%) and package holidays (23%) was the most common purpose of travel. The leading causes of skin disorders were arthropodal (23%), bacterial (22%), helminthic (11%), protozoan (6%), viral (6%), allergic (5%) and fungal (4%). The 10 most frequently diagnosed specific skin diseases associated with specific destinations were insect bites (17%, Southern Europe), cutaneous larva migrans (8%, Asia and Latin America), cutaneous leishmaniasis (2.4%, Mediterranean Region/Middle East), dengue fever (1.5%, Asia), rickettsioses (1.3%, Southern Africa), myiasis (0.8%, Central America), filarioses (0.7%, Africa), tick bites (0.6%, Central/Eastern Europe), schistosomiasis (0.6%, Africa) and tungiasis (0.6%, Africa). Travellers in sub-Saharan Africa had the highest relative risk of acquiring skin disorders.
As more than 20% of all skin disorders among returned travellers were caused by arthropods and about 50% by infectious pathogens, pre-travel consultations should include specific prophylaxis and consider the most important risk factor for the travel destination.