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Open Access Case report

Contact dermatitis presenting as non-healing wound: case report

M Leelavathi1*, YY Le2, H Tohid1 and AH Hasliza1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

2 Dermatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya

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Asia Pacific Family Medicine 2011, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1447-056X-10-6

Published: 15 May 2011


Topical antiseptics are commonly used in the management of minor wounds, burns, and infected skin. These agents are widely used by health professionals and are often self-prescribed by patients as they are easily available over-the-counter. This case illustrates a 73 year old man who presented with a non-healing wound on his right forearm for 4 weeks. The wound started from an insect bite and progressively enlarged with increasing pruritus and burning sensation. Clinically an ill-defined ulcer with surrounding erythema and erosion was noted. There was a yellow crust overlying the center of the ulcer and the periphery was scaly. Further inquiry revealed history of self treatment with a yellow solution to clean his wound for 3 weeks. Patient was provisionally diagnosed to have allergic contact dermatitis secondary to acriflavine. Topical acriflavine was stopped and the ulcer resolved after treatment with non-occlusive saline dressing. Skin patch test which is the gold standard for detection and confirmation of contact dermatitis showed a positive reaction (2+) to acriflavine. Acriflavine is widely used as a topical antiseptic agent in this part of the world. Hence, primary care physicians managing a large variety of poorly healing wounds should consider the possibility of contact allergy in recalcitrant cases, not responding to conventional treatment. Patient education is an important aspect of management as this would help curb the incidence of future contact allergies.