Particular Features of Clinical Pellagra: New vs. Old


The follow-up of an important number of patients during the last three decades has shown a substantial difference between the clinical description of pellagra in the 40’s (the triad: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia) and its clinical aspects today: sun-exposed teguments revealing erythema and rapidly becoming pigmented and parchment like, dried, parched lips, angular stomatitis, lead like sclera fine cornea vascularization; gastro-intestinal disturbances: constipation, unjustified diarrhea, strange migratory abdominal feelings accompanied by ubiquitous dysesthesias.

Other characteristics of this form of disease are: unexpressive look, continuously concerned, thoughtful, anxious or frowning, labile mind, headaches, insomnia. Villager’s neurosis sometimes may be considered, in an appropriate clinical context, as a facet of nutritional deficiency. It is considered that the “classical” features of pellagra have changed due to: protein ingestion slightly below the lowest normal limit, decrease of strenuous physical activity and some associated diseases (frequently gastrointestinal disorders, chronic alcoholism).