Scarification in sub-Saharan Africa: social skin, remedy and medical import

Trop Med Int Health. 2017 Jun;22(6):708-715. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12878. Epub 2017 May 9.


Various forms of body modification may be observed in sub-Saharan Africa. Hypotheses and theories of scarification and tribal marking in sub-Saharan Africa are described, plus the procedure of scarification, examples from several African countries, assumed effects in prevention and treatment of diseases, and the medical risks resulting from unsterile manipulation.

Keywords: Afrique subsaharienne; consecuencias médicas de la escarificación; conséquences médicales de la scarification; escarificación; importance sociale; medical consequences of scarification; scarification; significado social; social significance; sub-Saharan Africa; teoría de marcaje tribal; theories of tribal marking; théories du marquage tribal; África subsahariana.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Body Modification, Non-Therapeutic*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Risk