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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 148-149

Nail discoloration in a child with brucellosis

1 Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Erzurum Regional Training and Research Hospital, Erzurum, Turkey
2 Department of Dermatology, Erzurum Regional Training and Research Hospital, Erzurum, Turkey

Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Soner Sertan Kara
Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Erzurum Regional Training and Research Hospital, Palandöken, Erzurum - 25280
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2225-6482.172653

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Brucellosis is a frequent zoonotic disease. During the course of brucellosis treatment, antibiotics can result in side effects. Nail discoloration due to doxycycline is a rare, benign, and self-limited presentation. It is important to recognize it in patients on antibiotic therapy in order to prevent overdiagnosis and unnecessary laboratory tests. Here, a case of an 11-year-old boy with nail discoloration during brucellosis treatment was presented.

Keywords: Brucellosis, doxycycline, nail discoloration

How to cite this article:
Kara SS, Aktas ND. Nail discoloration in a child with brucellosis. Community Acquir Infect 2015;2:148-9

How to cite this URL:
Kara SS, Aktas ND. Nail discoloration in a child with brucellosis. Community Acquir Infect [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Jan 30];2:148-9. Available from: http://www.caijournal.com/text.asp?2015/2/4/148/172653

An 11-year-old boy presented with fever, malaise, and arthralgia on knees for 2 months. He was living in a village and helping his family with farming and animal husbandry. Physical examination and laboratory investigations including hematological and biochemical tests revealed unremarkable findings. Brucellosis was diagnosed with serology and blood culture positivity. He was started on peroral rifampicin (1 mg × 600 mg) and doxycycline (2 mg × 100 mg) treatments. After 10 days, he discovered painless, black pigmentation on his fingernails. He was admitted again at the end of 45 days of treatment. He was asymptomatic except for the black discoloration on his fingernails. Onycholysis was not present and his skin, oral mucosa, teeth, and toenails were normal [Figure 1]. After the cessation of antibiotic treatment, nail discoloration disappeared 2 months later [Figure 2]. Doxycycline, a tetracycline-derived antibiotic, is one of the main drugs for brucellosis. All tetracyclines rarely chelate calcium ions in nails, and concurrent sunlight exposure causes the discoloration of skin and nails.[1] It is a phototoxic reaction that results from mitochondrial damage due to free oxygen radicals, occurs particularly in the summer months, and mostly affects body parts with greater sun exposure, as in our case.[2] Direct exposure to sunlight, more ultraviolet B (UVB) light penetration due to convex structure, being more prone to traumas, and relatively scarce melanin pigment of fingernails make them more vulnerable to phototoxic damage.[3] Doses over 150 mg/day, as in our case, has been proposed to be associated with the increased degree of phototoxicity.[4] Nail discoloration is a rare and self-limited presentation. It disappears with the cessation of treatment and regeneration of nails after clipping. Knowing this would prevent overdiagnosis and unnecessary tests in patients with brucellosis treatment. It might be necessary to shorten sunlight exposure during the course of doxycycline therapy.
Figure 1: Black pigmentation on fingernails with doxycycline treatment. There is no onycholysis and toenails appear normal

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Figure 2: The disappearance of black pigmentation on fingernails after cessation of doxycycline treatment and nail regeneration

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Shetty AK. Tetracyclines in pediatrics revisited. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 2002;41:203-9.   Back to cited text no. 1
Shea CR, Olack GA, Morrison H, Chen N, Hasan T. Phototoxicitiy of lumidoxycycline. J Invest Dermatol 1993;101:329-33.  Back to cited text no. 2
Yong CK, Prendiville J, Peacock DL, Wong LT, Davidson AG. An unusual presentation of doxycycline- induced photosensitivity. Pediatrics 2000;106:E13.  Back to cited text no. 3
Layton AM, Cunliffe WJ. Phototoxic eruptions due to doxycycline — A dose-related phenomenon. Clin Exp Dermatol 1993;18:425-7.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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