Scurvy is a clinical syndrome that is caused by a deficiency of the water soluble vitamin C. First described in 1550 BCE it has been romanticized in stories of pirates who suffered skin and skeletal complications due to a lack of access to fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C deficiency was a major cause of death during the great potato famine in Europe and the United States Civil War. Risk factors include alcohol intake, tobacco use, low income, male gender, and patients on hemodialysis. The body may become deficient in vitamin C in a short time of 4 to 12 weeks. Scurvy is characterized by bruising, perifollicular hemorrhage, petechiae, gingivitis, arthralgias, impaired wound healing, anemia, and bone pain. As the consequences of missing the diagnosis can be severe and the treatment is simple replacement with dietary supplements, diagnosis should not be missed.
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