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Keywords:

  • acne;
  • cardiac surgery;
  • congenital heart disease;
  • cortisol;
  • stress;
  • striae.

We report a 13-year-old girl with extensive striae and an acneiform eruption following surgery for complex congenital heart disease. These findings were associated with elevated serum and urinary cortisol levels with loss of diurnal rhythm. The resolution of the eruption and the fading of her striae coincided in time with normalization of her blood parameters on day 72 postoperatively. We conclude that the cause of steroid excess in our patient was stress induced by the cardiac surgery and a complicated and protracted postoperative course. To our knowledge, this is the first report in the English language literature of skin changes due to endogenous hypercortisolaemia caused by intense physical and emotional stress.