Selenium deficiency: report of a case

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2005 Jul;30(4):346-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2005.01746.x.


We report an 18-month-old Japanese boy with selenium deficiency. He had dry skin with irregularly shaped, erythematous changes on the cheeks, groin, hip, and extremities, erosions on the external urethral and anal orifices, and sparse, short, thin, light-coloured hair. He had received parenteral nutrition for 5 months because of juvenile polyposis. At presentation, his serum selenium level was less than 2.0 microg/dL (normal range, 10.6-17.4 microg/dL). His skin lesions responded well to supplementary treatment with sodium selenite. His skin symptoms were similar to those attributable to a deficiency of zinc which, like selenium, is an essential trace element. According to the literature, selenium deficiency is responsible for cardiomyopathy, which was diagnosed in our patient. The clinical similarity to zinc deficiency and the literature yielded important clues for a diagnosis of selenium deficiency in this patient.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Hypotrichosis / etiology
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parenteral Nutrition / adverse effects
  • Selenium / deficiency*
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Sodium Selenite / therapeutic use
  • Zinc / deficiency


  • Selenium
  • Sodium Selenite
  • Zinc