Old world meets modern: a case report of scurvy

Nutr Clin Pract. 2007 Aug;22(4):445-8. doi: 10.1177/0115426507022004445.


Scurvy is a rarely seen disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C. We present a case of scurvy in a 65-year-old man. The patient reported heavy alcohol abuse over the last several years. He also reported that his diet consisted of cheese pizzas only. On physical examination, he was noted to have spontaneous ecchymosis of his lower extremities (denying any history of trauma); poor dentition; and corkscrew hairs on his chest, abdomen, and legs, with associated perifollicular petechia. Punch biopsy of his skin lesions revealed perivascular lymphohistiocytic inflammation, with some focal perifollicular erythrocyte extravasation. A serum ascorbic acid level was <0.12 mg/dL (normal range, 0.20-1.9 mg/dL). A diagnosis of vitamin C deficiency was made. The patient was successfully treated with 1 g/d vitamin C for the first 5 days, followed by a dose of 500 mg/d. Though scurvy is rarely seen in modern times, it is important to identify who is at risk and to recognize the clear and classic signs and symptoms associated with scurvy. Failure to diagnose this disease can potentially lead to expensive and unnecessary medical tests, as well as missing a very simple treatment that can prevent infection and even death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Scurvy / diagnosis*
  • Scurvy / drug therapy
  • Scurvy / etiology*
  • Scurvy / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ascorbic Acid