Self-inflicted garlic burns: our experience and literature review

Int J Dermatol. 2006 Oct;45(10):1161-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2006.02860.x.


Background: Throughout history, garlic has been used to treat a large variety of illnesses. One of garlic's adverse local effects is contact dermatitis.

Methods: We present three patients treated in the Department of Plastic Surgery for suspected self-inflicted lower extremity burns.

Results: The burns had unique features, not consistent with the etiology first claimed by the patients. All were soldiers with low motivation who confessed to using garlic to cause the burns.

Conclusions: Garlic application usually results in local inflammation, but, if applied under a pressure bandage, or if there is poor wound care or a secondary infection, it can cause a severe dermal reaction and a deep chemical burn. We present these cases to increase physician awareness of the characteristics of self-inflicted garlic burns, and review the dermatotoxic effect.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns, Chemical / diagnosis
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Garlic / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Self Mutilation / chemically induced*
  • Self Mutilation / diagnosis