Pellagra Quiz

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Saqib Baig

Saqib Baig, MD, MS (Respiratory medicine, Critical Care, Internal medicine)

Yukiko Ueda

Yukiko Ueda, MD (Dermatology)

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Learn more about Pellagra

Content updated on Sep 20, 2022

What is pellagra?

Pellagra is a systemic disease that results from severe vitamin B3 (Niacin) deficiency. Mild deficiency may go unnoticed, but a diet chronically low or without Niacin can result in symptoms. Primary symptoms include diarrhea, skin inflammation, inflammation of the mucous linings (inside of mouth), mental confusion, and weakness. If left untreated, it can lead to death.

Symptoms of pellagra

  • Redness in sun-exposed areas of skin

  • Black/blue/brown spots or moles, on the skin and lining of the mouth

  • Diarrhea

  • Skin redness or red bumpy rashes

Questions your doctor may ask to check for pellagra

Your doctor may ask these questions to diagnose pellagra

  • Do you have redness on the sun-exposed areas of your skin?

  • Are there black, blue, or brown spots on the skin or elsewhere? (Including moles)

  • Do you have loose stools or diarrhea?

  • Do you have red skin or red spots on the skin?

Treatment for pellagra

Pellagra is treated with dietary changes and niacin or nicotinamide (another form of vitamin B-3) supplementation. These vitamins may be given orally or injected into the vein (intravenously). With early treatment, many people fully recover and begin to feel better within a few days of starting treatment.

View the symptoms of Pellagra

References

  • Viljoen M, Bipath P, Tosh C. Pellagra in South Africa from 1897 to 2019: a scoping review. Public Health Nutr. 2021 Jun;24(8):2062-2076. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021001336. Epub 2021 Mar 26. PMID: 33769244.

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/pellagra-in-south-africa-from-1897-to-2019-a-scoping-review/5D2EC1BADFCB0360609534C552D232AF

  • PELLAGRA. JAMA. 2020 May 26;323(20):2100. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.13455. PMID: 32453356.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2766404

  • Li P, Lou Y. The Pellagra Problem. JAMA. 2021 Aug 10;326(6):573. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.18074. PMID: 34374730; PMCID: PMC8709778.

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2782875

Reviewed By:

Saqib Baig

Saqib Baig, MD, MS (Respiratory medicine, Critical Care, Internal medicine)

Yukiko Ueda

Yukiko Ueda, MD (Dermatology)

From our team of 50+ doctors

Just 3 minutes.
Developed by doctors.

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Shohei Harase, MD

Neurology

Kameda Medical Center, Japan

Sanshiro Kato

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Psychiatry

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Yoshinori Abe, MD

Internal medicine

Co-founder of Ubie, Inc.

Rohini R

Rohini R, MD

Ear, nose, throat (ENT)

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National Center for Child Health and Development, Japan

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