Got the Travel Bug? A Review of Common Infections, Infestations, Bites, and Stings Among Returning Travelers

Matthew P. Vasievich; Jose Dario Martinez Villarreal; Kenneth J. Tomecki


Am J Clin Dermatol. 2016;17(5):451-462. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The popularity of international travel continues to increase among Americans, even though they often experience subsequent illness on return from their journey. The pathogens responsible are not necessarily endemic to the destination itself but are often the result of poor sanitary conditions or activities engaged in while away. Skin disease ranks third among all medical concerns in returning travelers. This review addresses the pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical presentation, and treatment of the most common skin diseases in returning travelers: insect bites and bedbugs, cutaneous larva migrans, scabies, tungiasis, myiasis, leishmaniasis, viral exanthems, and marine envenomation. Primary care physicians and dermatologists should be familiar with these illnesses and a general approach to their evaluation and management.


Skin disease is one of the most common medical sequelae after travel abroad. Americans travel all over the world, but most commonly to Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic as well as Western Europe.[1] The restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba may make this a novel and popular travel destination as well. However, emerging destinations such as Brazil, Peru, and countries in south and southeast Asia such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and India are becoming increasingly sought-after vacation spots.[2]

This review discusses the cutaneous manifestations of diseases commonly seen in returning travelers from the western hemisphere, including new trends in US citizens traveling abroad as described by the GeoSentinel database of illness in international travelers.[3] The diseases are not necessarily endemic to a particular region but may occur as a result of variability in sanitary conditions, travel to forested areas, or rustic accommodations.