Burns or phytophotodermatitis, abuse or neglect: confusing aspects of skin lesions caused by the superstitious use of fig leaves

J Burn Care Res. Nov-Dec 2012;33(6):e309-12. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318257d877.


As a superstition, homemade decoctions are believed to be beneficial for several diseases. This kind of medical therapy, however, can lead to serious adverse effects. In this report, we present three cases from a single family. Each of the family members developed phytophotodermatitis after the application of a fig leaf decoction. The most severe effect was in the case of a 13-year-old boy who had been bathed with the fig leaf decoction; the two other cases were the parents who prepared and applied the medicine to their child's skin to heal the boy's congenital mental-motor retardation. Silver sulfadiazine was used for wound care. The mother was discharged 6 days after admission, the father, after 8 days, and the boy, after 14 days. Burnlike wounds in all three cases healed completely.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Burns, Chemical / diagnosis*
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology*
  • Ficus
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Silver Sulfadiazine / therapeutic use
  • Superstitions


  • Silver Sulfadiazine