Cutaneous Manifestations of Child Abuse


Address correspondence to Tor Shwayder, M.D., Department of Dermatology, Henry Ford Hospital, New Center One, 3031 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48202, or e-mail:


Abstract:  Dermatologists and child abuse are not frequently associated in the minds of most physicians. Yet the most common manifestations of child abuse are cutaneous. This article reviews cutaneous manifestations of physical abuse, including bruises, lacerations, abrasions, human bites, and burns. It also discusses ways that dermatologists can differentiate abusive injuries from accidental ones as well as from the many dermatologic conditions that can mimic child abuse. Finally, we review what actions the dermatologist should take when suspecting abuse in a patient.