BMJ Case Reports 2018; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-223149
  • Global health

Atopic dermatitis complicated by severe impetigo in a Syrian refugee infant

  1. Elizabeth Munn1,2
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine,Dalhousie University, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter Green,{at}
  • Accepted 25 February 2018
  • Published 14 May 2018


We present the case of a 3-month-old infant with atopic dermatitis who developed severe impetigo. The child was born to Syrian refugees shortly after they arrived in Canada. The case demonstrates the rapid and nearly complete resolution of dramatic skin findings after a course of hydrocortisone ointment and oral antibiotics with adjuvant measures. For resettled refugees, access to family physicians and local language proficiency are common barriers that negatively impact their health and healthcare. We discuss some aspects of how the healthcare model in one Canadian city addresses these issues in the context of this case. The case also raises questions about the burden of dermatological conditions in refugees while in transit and in countries of resettlement. The few reports that exist suggest that some conditions may be relatively common and that the epidemiology warrants additional investigation.


  • Contributors PG saw the patient, obtained digital images and reviewed manuscript, and provided feedback for submission. EM obtained patient consent, met with the family and prepared the manuscript for submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Next of kin consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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