Author: Georgina Harvey, Dermatology Registrar, Adelaide, Australia. DermNet New Zealand Editor in Chief: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Copy editor: Maria McGivern. March 2017.
The kava plant is a member of the black pepper family (Piper methysticum) that is traditionally used in the South Pacific to make a psychotropic beverage consumed in cultural ceremonies and also socially — the drink is also called kava [1–3].
Kava is made by infusing the dried roots of the kava plant in water, or less commonly, in coconut milk .
Kava leaves by Forest & Kim Starr
|Kava root by Mark Heard on Flickr||Preparing kava by Dave Lonsdale on Flickr|
Kava dermopathy is an skin condition that occurs in patients who regularly consume kava . In Fiji, kava dermopathy is known as kanikani , while in Australia it is also known as crocodile skin .
Kava dermopathy occurs in people who are regular or heavy consumers of kava [2,3].
It most commonly occurs in the South Pacific and in the Indigenous population of northern Australia .
The cause of kava dermopathy is unknown; however, there are many hypotheses including :
Kava dermopathy is usually a clinical diagnosis, taking into account the physical features and the history, including a history of regular kava consumption, in addition to the resolution of the rash on the cessation of kava consumption .
Other ichthyotic disorders may appear similar to kava dermopathy. Ichthyotic disorders can be distinguished based on the patient’s history.
Inherited ichthyoses will usually occur at a much younger age and may be congenital (eg, recessive X-linked ichthyosis).
Other causes of acquired ichthyosis include :
Kava dermopathy clears up when the consumption of kava is stopped [3,4].
General measures to manage the rash include:
Ongoing kava consumption will result in persistence and likely progression of kava dermopathy.
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