Background: Arsenic is an ubiquitous natural element. Chronic and low level ingestion or inhalation may result in chronic arsenicism first characterized by skin changes.
Case report: A 75 year old man, non-insulin-dependent diabetic, presented a diffuse hyperpigmentation with scattered white spots on the trunk. He complained of asthenia. Clinical diagnosis of chronic arsenicism was confirmed by arsenic determination in urine, plasma and phaneres. Thorough investigations led to discover very high arsenic levels in the own wine of the patient. This was probably the result of a wrong use of sodium arsenite-based fungicide, for cultivating his vine yard.
Discussion: Chronic arsenicism has become rare but it should always be kept in mind. Clinical presentation, with particular cutaneous features and routes of exposure are reviewed. Treatment is symptomatic. As arsenic is known to be a strong carcinogenic agent, patients with chronic arsenicism have to be followed up during a long time.