Papers And Originals

Trophic Skin Ulceration of Leprosy: Skin and Serum Zinc Concentrations

Br Med J 1974; 2 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.5918.531 (Published 08 June 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;2:531
  1. Beng Bee Oon,
  2. Kit Yew Khong,
  3. Malcolm W. Greaves,
  4. Valerie M. Plummer

    Abstract

    Skin and serum zinc measurements have been made in patients with leprosy with and without trophic skin ulceration and in several other groups. Serum zinc concentrations were decreased in leprosy irrespective of the presence or absence of skin ulceration. Serum zinc concentrations in leprosy were also unrelated to smears positive for Mycobacterium leprae and to the clinical type of leprosy. Since a decrease of the serum zinc was also found in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis and pulmonary tuberculosis it seems likely that the decreased serum zinc in leprosy is a nonspecific metabolic consequence of chronic skin and internal disease. The mean skin zinc concentration in leprosy did not differ significantly from the corresponding value in control subjects, the lack of agreement between serum and skin concentrations being possibly related to the presence of nonexchangeable keratin-bound zinc in skin. Though the clinical significance of lowered serum zinc concentrations in leprosy is uncertain therapeutic trials of zinc treatment in leprosy with trophic skin ulceration seem justifiable.