Objectives: Thallium poisoning is usually associated with typical dermatological features simulating that of zinc deficiency. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of oral zinc sulphate in the treatment of patients with thallium poisoning.
Materials and methods: This clinical therapeutic trial study was conducted in Departments of Dermatology of Baghdad and Basrah Teaching Hospitals from February 2008 - February 2010, where a total of 37 patients with thallium poisoning were enrolled.
A detailed history was taken from all patients and complete clinical examination was performed. All patients received zinc sulphate in a dose of 5 mg/kg three times a day few days before confirming the diagnosis of thallium poisoning. Thallium in urine had been measured using the colorimetric method and was positive in all patients. After confirming the diagnosis of thallium poisoning, thallium antidotes Prussian blue was given to 32 patients.
Results: Age range of 37 patients was 5-33 (mean, 24±5.3) years. The dermatological findings were mainly, anagen hair loss affected the scalp and limbs. Also, dusky ecchymotic red dermatitis like rash was observed on the face and dorsum of hands and legs. Neurologic manifestations, mainly of peripheral neuropathy, were reported in 21 (55%) patients. All patients but two responded promptly to a trial of zinc sulphate within few days.
Conclusion: Oral Zinc sulphate appears to be an effective and safe treatment for thallium poisoning particularly for skin and hair features and in reducing its lethal progression and complications.