Scurvy as cause of purpura in the XXI century: A review on this "ancient" disease

M. Antonelli, M. L. Burzo, G. Pecorini, G. Massi, R. Landolfi, A. Flex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Scurvy is defined as a deficiency of ascorbic acid, which is an essential exogenous vitamin in humans. Vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis and its deficit can cause disorders of connective tissue. The most frequent symptoms are weakness, arthralgias, anorexia and depression, commonly associated with follicular hyperkeratosis and perifollicular hemorrhage, with purpura. Patients and Methods: A young woman, with a history of malnutrition, manifested purpura and hematoma of the left lower limb. The laboratory tests didn't detect alterations either in coagulation, the platelet count or in the autoimmunity. The total body TC scan didn't show neoplasia or other suspected lesions. Excluding the most important causes of purpura, in consideration of malnutrition, scurvy was suspected. Results: As kin biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. Accordingly to this finding, a treatment with a daily intravenous infusion of vitamin C was started with consequent improvement of hematoma and purpura. Conclusions: Scurvy is a re-emerging disease, also in western countries. When purpura appears in young adults, scurvy has to be investigated, especially when a history of malnutrition is present. The treatment with vitamin C infusions should be started as soon as possible in order to prevent any complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4355-4358
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Ascorbic acid
  • Purpura
  • Scurvy
  • Vitamin C

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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