Scombroid Poisoning: A Practical Approach

Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2016 Sep;107(7):567-71. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Apr 28.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Scombroid poisoning is a common cause of food poisoning worldwide. It is caused by ingestion of oily fish contaminated with bacteria that trigger the formation of high concentrations of histamine. Scombroid poisoning manifests mainly as a skin complaint (flushing that spreads downward and/or an erythematous urticarial rash affecting the face and upper trunk). Although the clinical course is usually self-limiting and benign, vascular compromise, bronchospasm, and arrhythmias have been described. It is important to establish a differential diagnosis that includes conditions such as fish allergy. Oral antihistamines are the mainstay of treatment. Scombroid poisoning is best prevented by refrigerating fish properly. The practical review of scombroid poisoning provided here is intended for dermatologists.

Keywords: Escombroidosis; Fish; Food poisoning; Histamine poisoning; Intoxicación histamínica; Pescado; Scombroid poisoning; Toxiinfección alimentaria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Fishes / microbiology*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Foodborne Diseases / diagnosis
  • Foodborne Diseases / drug therapy
  • Foodborne Diseases / etiology*
  • Foodborne Diseases / metabolism
  • Histamine / biosynthesis
  • Histamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans


  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Histamine