Dermatoses secondary to Asian cultural practices

Evelyn Lilly, Roopal V. Kundu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Although Asian cultural practices, such as acupuncture and threading, are widely used, there is limited medical literature describing their cutaneous effects and complications. This review briefly describes therapeutic cultural practices (traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, coining, Ayurveda, and aromatherapy) and cosmetic cultural practices (hair oils, henna, bindis, saris, and threading), with particular attention to dermatoses secondary to these practices. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda may cause heavy metal toxicity, severe cutaneous adverse reactions, and contact dermatitis. Cupping, moxibustion, and coining lead to dermatoses that may be mistaken for abuse by people unfamiliar with the practices. Hair oils may cause contact dermatitis and folliculitis. Paraphenylenediamine in black henna and bindi dyes and adhesives can cause severe allergic contact dermatitis. The drawstring in saris causes frictional irritation, which can lead to tinea corporis, koebnerization, and even squamous cell carcinoma. Threading may cause folliculitis, impetigo, and verrucae. The increasing prevalence of Asian cultural practices, which are performed inside and outside of Asia in this era of globalization, demands that dermatologists be familiar with the secondary dermatoses that may develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-382
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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