Skin manifestations of arsenicosis in two villages in Bangladesh

Int J Dermatol. 2002 Dec;41(12):841-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2002.01668.x.


Background: Arsenic contamination in groundwater affects 35 million people in Bangladesh, but the prevalence of arsenic contamination in local communities remains to be clarified. As skin manifestations are sensitive markers of arsenicosis, we examined the skin of adults and adolescents in two villages to elucidate the severity of arsenicosis.

Methods: Five hundred and sixty-one villagers were randomly selected for the evaluation of their skin. Three indicators, i.e. keratosis on the soles, keratosis on the palms, and melanosis and hypopigmentation on the trunk, were quantified for analysis.

Results: More than 50% of the villagers showed some skin manifestations due to arsenicosis. Keratosis on the soles was the most sensitive marker for the detection of arsenicosis at an early stage. Interestingly, the skin manifestations were more severe in males than in females. There was no correlation between the age and the severity of skin manifestations.

Conclusions: The prevalence of arsenicosis was quite high and males were more vulnerable to arsenic contamination. Using skin manifestations, especially keratosis on the soles, as useful markers to detect and evaluate arsenicosis, it is clear that there is an urgent need to assess the exact prevalence and severity of arsenicosis in the population of Bangladesh in order to take measures to treat and control this problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arsenic Poisoning / complications*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Arsenic Poisoning / pathology
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Foot Dermatoses / epidemiology*
  • Foot Dermatoses / etiology*
  • Foot Dermatoses / pathology
  • Hand Dermatoses / epidemiology*
  • Hand Dermatoses / etiology*
  • Hand Dermatoses / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypopigmentation / epidemiology*
  • Hypopigmentation / etiology*
  • Hypopigmentation / pathology
  • Keratosis / epidemiology*
  • Keratosis / etiology*
  • Keratosis / pathology
  • Male
  • Melanosis / epidemiology*
  • Melanosis / etiology*
  • Melanosis / pathology
  • Random Allocation
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thorax / pathology*
  • Water Pollution / adverse effects*