Cutaneous sarcoidosis and tribal scarifications in West Africa

Int J Dermatol. Jan-Feb 1989;28(1):29-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4362.1989.tb01305.x.


Sarcoidosis is quite common in American and West Indian blacks. In America, the incidence in blacks could be up to 10 times higher than in whites. Sarcoidosis is generally believed to be rarer in African blacks and especially along the West African coast from which the American blacks trace their ancestry. The difference in incidence may be due to environmental influences, poor reporting system from inadequate local awareness of the presentation, confusion with tuberculosis, and lack of the Kveim antigen. Diagnosis of sarcoidosis is most commonly made from the pulmonary and skin manifestations. Since the skin manifestation presents readily for observation without the need for costly devices like x-ray machines, the present study focused on and analyzed the seven cases seen in the skin clinic within a period of 2 years (an incidence of 0.85%), showing that the commonest presentation was as scar-sarcoid on longstanding tribal marks. Tribal scarification is common in West Africa, and one should investigate any change in a longstanding scar. This heightened awareness in areas where scarification is or was practiced could end the belief of the rarity of sarcoidosis in the West African subregion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cicatrix / complications*
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria
  • Sarcoidosis / ethnology
  • Sarcoidosis / etiology
  • Sarcoidosis / pathology*
  • Skin Diseases / ethnology
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*