Paederus dermatitis

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Paederus dermatitis
Paederus rove beetles, showing size

Paederus dermatitis (also called linear dermatitis or dermatitis linearis) is skin irritation resulting from contact with the hemolymph of certain rove beetles, a group that includes the genus Paederus.[1][2] Other local names given to Paederus dermatitis include spider-lick, whiplash dermatitis,[3] and Nairobi fly dermatitis.[1]

The active agent is commonly referred to as pederin, although depending on the beetle species it may be one of several similar molecules including pederone and pseudopederin.[4]

"Blister beetle dermatitis," a term more properly used for the different dermatitis caused by cantharidin from blister beetles, is also sometimes used to describe paederus dermatitis caused by rove beetles.[5][6]

Diagnosis and treatment[edit]

Once pederin is on the skin from the initial beetle contact, it may also be spread elsewhere on the skin. "Kissing" or "mirror-image" lesions where two skin areas come in contact (for example, the elbow flexure) are often seen.[5] Washing the hands and skin with soap and water is strongly recommended, if contact with a rove beetle has occurred.[7]

Initial skin contact with pederin shows no immediate result. Within 12–36 hours, however, a reddish rash (erythema) appears, which develops into blisters. Irritation, including crusting and scaling, may last from two to three weeks.[7]

One study reported best results with a treatment regimen that combined topical steroids with oral antihistamines and antibiotics. The authors hypothesized that antibiotics were helpful because of the possible contamination of skin by pederin-producing bacteria.[8]

Location and species[edit]

Three different genera of rove beetles, all members of the same subtribe Paederina, can cause paederus dermatitis: Paederus, Paederidus, and Megalopaederus.[9] This irritant is called pederin and is highly toxic, more potent than cobra venom.[10]

In different parts of the world, different species of rove beetle cause Paederus dermatitis:

Paederus dermatitis has also been reported from Nigeria[15] France, Okinawa, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Vietnam (Perumbavoor, Kerala), Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mullen, Gary; Gary Richard Mullen, Lance Durden (2009). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Academic Press. p. 102. Retrieved 31 July 2011. Pederin contacts human skin only when a beetle is brushed vigorously over the skin or crushed. 
  4. ^ Verma, Rajesh; Sunil Agarwal (2006). "Blistering beetle dermatitis: An outbreak" (PDF). Medical Journal Armed Forces India. 62 (1): 42–44. doi:10.1016/s0377-1237(06)80154-1. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Singh, Gurcharan; Syed Yousuf Ali (2007). "Paederus dermatitis". Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 73 (1): 13–15. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.30644. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Blister Beetles". Institute of Tropical Medicine. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Just the facts…Paederus Beetles" (PDF). US Army Public Health Command. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Qadir, Syed Nurul Rasool; Naeem Raza, Simeen Ber Rahman (2006). "Volume 12 Number 7 Paederus dermatitis In Sierra Leone". Dermatology Online Journal. 12 (7): 9. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Capinera, John L; J. Howard Frank (2008). "Dermatitis linearis". Encyclopedia of entomology. Springer. pp. 1179–. ISBN 978-1-4020-6242-1. The 28 species thus far shown to produce such a toxin belong to three of the 14 genera of Paederina, namely Paederus, Paederidus, and Megalopaederus 
  10. ^ "Ectoparasites". Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  11. ^ Nikbakhtzadeh, M.R.; S. Tirgari (2007). "Medically important beetles (insecta: coleoptera) of Iran" (PDF). J. venom. anim. toxins incl. trop. dis. 14 (4): 597–618. doi:10.1590/s1678-91992008000400004. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  12. ^ [1] Journal of Dermatology, May 31. 2007
  13. ^ Sutherland, Struan K.; Tibballs, James (2001) [1983]. Australian Animal Toxins (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 514. ISBN 0-19-550643-X. 
  14. ^ [2] 'Beware, the Nairobi fly is back in town', The Nation, 5/27/2007
  15. ^ [3] The Internet Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2006 Volume 3 Number 1
  16. ^ Kamaladasa, S. D.; Perera, W. D.; Weeratunge, L. (1997-01-01). "An outbreak of paederus dermatitis in a suburban hospital in Sri Lanka". International Journal of Dermatology. 36 (1): 34–36. ISSN 0011-9059. PMID 9071612. doi:10.1046/j.1365-4362.1997.00009.x. 

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