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Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Baboon syndrome

What is Baboon syndrome?

Baboon syndrome describes a distinctive rash which occurs after systemic exposure to a food or drug.

The substance may be taken orally, given by injection, or absorbed by some other route resulting in a general exposure of the body,

It is also called symmetrical drug related intertriginous and flexural exanthema (SDRIFE).

What are the symptoms of Baboon syndrome?

The clinical picture is of a well-defined redness of the buttocks and / or upper inner thighs resembling the red bottom of baboons. Other skin folds may be involved. The affected person is not unwell and the rash is not accompanied by any other symptoms.

Baboon syndrome
Baboon syndrome

What is the cause of Baboon syndrome?

In classical baboon syndrome, the initial sensitization is by skin contact with the causative agent then a rash with the particular appearance of the baboon syndrome is brought out by taking the agent by mouth (systemic contact dermatitis). It is not fully understood why the rash should occur in these particular areas.

Classical baboon syndrome was originally observed with mercury, nickel and ampicillin.

Since then over 100 cases of baboon syndrome have been described, most of them without known prior sensitization to the causative agent.


Patch tests may be performed and may show a positive reaction to the suspected causative agent. An oral “challenge” to the suspect may be given.


Stop the causative agent and avoid it in the future. Topical steroids may reduce the redness.

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Author: Dr Mark Duffill, Hamilton

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