Background and objective  Studies of dermatological emergencies (DE) are few. We evaluated the activity in our DE unit in a 1-month retrospective study and compared the results with a similar study performed in the same department in 2000.

Methods  We reviewed the charts of all outpatients seen in the DE unit in January 2010, collecting data on age, sex, place of residence, referral mode, day and hour of consultation, true emergency or non-emergency, diagnosis and follow-up.

Results  In January 2010, we serviced 605 patients (58% males, mean age 40 ± 21 years), 21% more than in 2000; 43.5% were seen during off-duty hours vs. 49% in 2000 (P = 0.066), 49% were considered true emergencies vs. 43% in 2000 (P = 0.046), and 14% were referred by a physician vs. 23% in 2000 (P = 0.0001). In total, 35.2% of cases were infectious dermatoses in 2010 vs. 29% in 2000 (P = 0.026). Other diagnoses were eczema, urticaria and drug-related eruptions. Follow-up was suggested to 53.3% of the patients.

Conclusions  Our DE unit satisfies a genuine need. Its activity increased over 10 years, most likely because of the decrease in the number of dermatologists in France. Although our results are close to those reported in the literature, comparison with previously published studies is difficult because of the heterogeneity of the definition of DE.