Onchocerciasis causes debilitating pruritus and rashes as well as visual impairment and blindness. Prior to control measures, eye disease was particularly prominent in savanna areas of sub-Saharan Africa whilst skin disease was more common across rainforest regions of tropical Africa. Mass drug distribution with ivermectin is changing the global scene of onchocerciasis. There has been successful progressive elimination in Central and Southern American countries and the World Health Organization has set a target for elimination in Africa of 2025. This literature review was conducted to examine progress regarding onchocercal skin disease. PubMed searches were performed using keywords ‘onchocerciasis’, ‘onchodermatitis’ and ‘onchocercal skin disease’ over the past eight years. Articles in English, or with an English abstract, were assessed for relevance, including any pertinent references within the articles. Recent progress in awareness of, understanding and treatment of onchocercal skin disease is reviewed with particular emphasis on publications within the past five years. The global burden of onchodermatitis is progressively reducing and is no longer seen in children in many formerly endemic foci.
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