Paederus dermatitis

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Paederus dermatitis
Other names: Linear dermatitis or Dermatitis linearis
Paederus dermatitis

Paederus dermatitis, medically known as dermatitis linearis,[1] is a skin irritation resulting from contact with the hemolymph of certain rove beetles, a group that belongs to the insect order Coleoptera and the genus Paederus.[2][3][4] Other local names given to Paederus dermatitis include spider-lick, whiplash dermatitis,[5] and Nairobi fly dermatitis.[2]

"Blister beetle dermatitis," a term more properly used for the different dermatitis caused by cantharidin from blister beetles, is also sometimes used to describe paederus dermatitis caused by rove beetles.[6][7]

Signs and symptoms

Paederus dermatitis-Lesions over the nape of neck

Initial skin contact with pederin shows no immediate result. Within 12–36 hours, however, a reddish rash (erythema) appears, which develops into blisters. Irritation, including crusting and scaling, may last from two to three weeks.[8] The pederin may unconsciously be transmitted to other parts of the body such as the eye and genitals after the initial contact. Conjunctivitis which is commonly known as Nairobi eye in eastern Africa occurs when the eyes are affected.[9]


Paederus rove beetles, showing size

Rove beetles do not bite or sting but cause skin irritations and blisters when accidentally brushed or crushed against the skin provoking them to release their coelemic fluid which contains a strong blistering chemical.[10] The active agent in the coelemic fluid is commonly referred to as pederin, although depending on the beetle species it may be one of several similar molecules including pederone and pseudopederin.[11]

Location and species

Three different genera of rove beetles, all members of the same subtribe Paederina, can cause paederus dermatitis: Paederus, Paederidus, and Megalopaederus.[12] This irritant is called pederin and is highly toxic, more potent than cobra venom.[13]

In different parts of the world, different species of rove beetle cause Paederus dermatitis:

Paederus dermatitis has also been reported from Nigeria, France, Okinawa, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, India (Perumbavoor, Kerala), Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia .[17]


Diagnosis for Pauderus dermatitis is done via skin biopsy[18]


Once pederin is on the skin from the initial beetle contact, it may also be spread elsewhere on the skin. "Kissing" or "mirror-image" lesions where two skin areas come in contact (for example, the elbow flexure) are often seen.[6] Washing the hands and skin with soap and water is strongly recommended, if contact with a rove beetle has occurred.[8]

One study reported best results with a treatment regimen that combined topical steroids with oral antihistamines(first day) and antibiotics. The authors hypothesized that antibiotics were helpful because of the possible contamination of skin by pederin-producing bacteria.[19]

See also


  1. Cressey, B. D.; Paniz-Mondolfi, A. E.; Rodríguez-Morales, A. J.; Ayala, J. M.; De Ascenção Da Silva AA (2013). "Dermatitis linearis: vesicating dermatosis caused by paederus species (coleoptera: staphylinidae). Case series and review". Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. 24 (2): 124–31. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2012.11.005. PMID 23352312.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rapini RP, Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. ISBN 978-1-4160-2999-1.
  3. Gelmetti C, Grimalt R (January 1993). "Paederus dermatitis: an easy diagnosable but misdiagnosed eruption". European Journal of Pediatrics. 152 (1): 6–8. doi:10.1007/BF02072506. PMID 8444208. S2CID 23226753.
  4. "Paederus Dermatitis - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)". Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  5. Mullen GR, Durden LA (2009). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Academic Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-08-053607-1. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 30 January 2021. Pederin contacts human skin only when a beetle is brushed vigorously over the skin or crushed.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Singh G, Yousuf Ali S (2007). "Paederus dermatitis". Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 73 (1): 13–5. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.30644. PMID 17314440.
  7. "Blister Beetles". Institute of Tropical Medicine. Archived from the original on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Just the facts…Paederus Beetles" (PDF). US Army Public Health Command. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  9. Mammino JJ (November 2011). "Paederus dermatitis: an outbreak on a medical mission boat in the Amazon". The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 4 (11): 44–6. PMC 3225135. PMID 22125660.
  10. "Paederus Dermatitis - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)". Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  11. Verma CR, Agarwal S (January 2006). "Blistering Beetle Dermatitis: An Outbreak". Medical Journal, Armed Forces India. 62 (1): 42–4. doi:10.1016/S0377-1237(06)80154-1. PMC 4923299. PMID 27407843.
  12. Frank JS (2008). "Dermatitis linearis". In Capinera JL (ed.). Encyclopedia of entomology. Springer. pp. 1179–. ISBN 978-1-4020-6242-1. Archived from the original on 17 March 2022. Retrieved 30 January 2021. The 28 species thus far shown to produce such a toxin belong to three of the 14 genera of Paederina, namely Paederus, Paederidus, and Megalopaederus
  13. "Ectoparasites". Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp. Archived from the original on 5 March 2007. Retrieved 4 June 2007.
  14. Nikbakhtzadeh MR, Tirgari S (2008). "Medically important beetles (insecta: coleoptera) of Iran". Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. 14 (4): 597–618. doi:10.1590/s1678-91992008000400004.
  15. Sutherland SK, Tibballs J (2001) [1983]. Australian Animal Toxins (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 514. ISBN 0-19-550643-X.
  16. Okwemba A (27 May 2007). "Beware, the Nairobi fly is back in town". The Nation. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  17. Kamaladasa SD, Perera WD, Weeratunge L (January 1997). "An outbreak of paederus dermatitis in a suburban hospital in Sri Lanka". International Journal of Dermatology. 36 (1): 34–6. doi:10.1046/j.1365-4362.1997.00009.x. PMID 9071612. S2CID 39540236.
  18. "Paederus dermatitis | DermNet NZ". Archived from the original on 13 August 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  19. Qadir SN, Raza N, Rahman SB (December 2006). "Paederus dermatitis in Sierra Leone". Dermatology Online Journal. 12 (7): 9. PMID 17459295. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2021.