Dermatologists and other clinicians in refugee-receiving nations must learn forensic dermatology to recognize lesions caused by torture. For a study, researchers sought to examine forensic dermatology in torture cases.
Chronic skin lesions would be the most easily recognized indication of torture while providing medical assessment and care to refugees and migrants. Beatings are frequent, and blunt force trauma causes postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Torture burns can be thermal, chemical, or electrothermal in nature, resulting in different lesions depending on the manner, length, and intensity of exposure and the region of skin affected. Sharp tools cause a wide spectrum of lesions due to stabbing/perforation or knife wounds. Wound healing in unhygienic settings and without medical treatment will impact the scarring process. Suspension and ligature lesions may coexist with scars from other types of torture. Self-inflicted wounds, ethnic scarification, and scars from traditional healing procedures are examples of differential diagnoses.
Basic training in forensic dermatology would benefit physicians who may encounter torture survivors in the community or specialist practice, while knowledge of common forms of torture and cultural practices in refugees’ countries of origin is important when considering differential diagnoses of skin lesions.