Blister beetle dermatitis

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Blister beetle dermatitis

Blister beetle dermatitis is a cutaneous condition that occurs after contact with any of several types of beetles, including those from the Meloidae and Oedemeridae families.[1]:449 Blister beetles secrete an irritant called cantharidin, a vesicant that can get onto humans if they touch the beetles.

The term "blister beetle dermatitis" is also occasionally and inappropriately used as a synonym for Paederus dermatitis, a somewhat different dermatitis caused by contact with pederin, an irritant in the hemolymph of a different group of beetles, the rove beetles.[2]


After skin comes in contact with cantharidin, local irritation begins within a few hours.[3] (This is in contrast to Paederus dermatitis, where symptoms first appear 12–36 hours after contact with rove beetles.)[4] Painful blisters appear, but scarring from these epidermal lesions is rare.[5]



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  1. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-7216-2921-6.
  2. ^ [1] 'Paederus dermatitis' by Gurcharan Singh and Syed Yousuf Ali, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Jan-Feb 2007
  3. ^ "7.7 Blister beetles, clinical features". Institute of Tropical Medicine. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011. On skin contact with cantharidin-containing blister beetles, local tissue irritation occurs after a few hours. This results from the disruption of tonofilaments in the desmosomes with acantholysis and intra-epidermal blister formation.
  4. ^ "Just the facts…Paederus Beetles" (PDF). US Army Public Health Command. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  5. ^ Barceloux, Donald (2008). Medical toxicology of natural substances: foods, fungi, medicinal herbs, plants, and venomous animals. John Wiley and Sons. p. 973. ISBN 9780470335574.

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