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Epidemiology of Skin Disorders in Ethiopian Children and Adolescents: An Analysis of Records from the Italian Dermatological Centre, Mekelle, Tigray, Ethiopia, 2005 to 2009


Address correspondence to Pascal Vignally, M.D., Ph.D., National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty, via di San Gallicano 25/A, 00153 Rome, Italy, or e-mail:


Abstract:  Skin disorders are an important problem in children living in developing countries, but only a few epidemiologic investigations on pediatric dermatoses are available in the literature. Our study is an analysis of the range and frequency of skin diseases presenting to the Italian Dermatological Center in a pediatric Ethiopian population. A retrospective analysis was performed on 17,967 medical records of children aged 0 to 18 years attending the Italian Dermatological Centre in Mekele (Ethiopia) from January 2005 to December 2009. Infections and infestations accounted for 47% of the disorders seen; fungal infections were the most common (44.1%), followed by bacterial and parasitic diseases. Dermatitis constituted the second most common diagnostic category (24.7%) of the disorders seen, and contact dermatitis was the most common diagnosis (48.8%). Pigmentary disorders and disorders of skin appendages were more common in girls, whereas fungal and parasitic infections were more common in boys. Bacterial and parasitic infections were more common in children younger than 1 year old, fungal infections in those aged 1 to 5.9, and disorders of skin appendages and pigmentary disorders in those aged 15 to 18. These findings demonstrate that most of the disorders seen could be easily managed in clinical practice with appropriate skill development. It is crucial to ensure that training of medical students and pediatricians focuses on accurate recognition, diagnosis, and management of these common skin diseases and that families, teachers, health workers, and nurses be educated about the most common signs of prevalent skin diseases to help facilitate appropriate care.