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Pinta (also known as Azul, Carate, Empeines, Lota, Mal del Pinto and Tina) is a human skin disease endemic to Mexico, Central America, and South America caused by infection with a spirochete, Treponema pallidum carateum, which is morphologically and serologically indistinguishable from the organism that causes syphilis.
Pinta, the least severe of treponemal infections being limited to the skin, is thought to be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact (similar to bejel and yaws), and after an incubation period of two to three weeks, produces a raised papule, which enlarges and becomes hyperkeratotic (scaly/flaky). Lesions are usually present in the exposed surface of arms and legs. Local lymph nodes might be enlarged. Three to 9 months later, further thickened and flat lesions (pintids) appear all over the body. These generally resolve, but a proportion of people with pinta will go on to develop late-stage disease, characterised by widespread pigmentary change with a mixture of hyperpigmentation and depigmentation which can be disfiguring.
Diagnosis is usually clinical, but as with yaws and bejel, serological tests for syphilis, such as rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and TPHA, will be positive, and the spirochetes can be seen on dark field microscopy of samples taken from the early papules.
The disease can be treated with penicillin, tetracycline (not to be used in pregnant women), azithromycin or chloramphenicol, and can be prevented through contact tracing by public health officials. A single intramuscular injection of long-acting penicillin is effective against endemic treponematoses including pinta, yaws, and bejel