Background: Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Ethiopia but cutaneous tuberculosis (CT) has not been documented. Objective: This study was conducted to determine its existence and its clinical pattern in Tigray, a northern region of Ethiopia. Methods: We report 202 cases of CT who attended the Italian Dermatological Centre in the 34-month period between January 2005 and October 2007. The diagnosis was made on a clinical, cytological and histological basis. Results: Clinically, 143 cases of scrofuloderma, 22 of lupus vulgaris, 18 of gumma, 11 of lichen scrofulosorum, 6 of tuberculosis verrucosa cutis and 2 of erythema induratum of Bazin were observed in our department. All patients were aged between 18 months and 69 years, and 49 were paediatric cases. Forty-five were HIV positive. Conclusion: The number of CT cases observed in the period of 34 months indicates a high incidence of the disease in the region also in the paediatric age. CT is still underdiagnosed due to the low number of dermatologists as well as the poor life conditions of the population and the traditional belief in magic medicine. The current study may therefore provide some indication about the epidemiology of CT in Ethiopia.
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