Scurvy and Your Skin: Sailors and Sydneysiders

Scurvy and Your Skin: Sailors and Sydneysiders

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Vitamin C deficiency may manifest in a number of ways. Cutaneous clues include easy bruising, bleeding, poor or delayed wound healing. Body hairs may become corkscrew in shape and the skin around hair follicles may bruise and become rough. Oral changes include gingivitis, bleeding gums and loose teeth. Untreated vitamin C deficiency may cause death, a fate famously suffered by many thousands of sailors during the Age of Exploration.

People at risk of vitamin C deficiency include the elderly, those on restrictive diets limiting fruits and vegetables, and those with chronic dental problems.

Scurvy is very treatable and may be cured by increasing the fruit and vegetable content of your diet, or adding a supplement until levels have returned to normal. Good sources include citrus fruits, green vegetables (broccoli, brusselsprouts) potatoes and tomatoes.


Dr Margit Polcz
3rd year Dermatology Registrar


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