Mycobacterium fortuitum infection arising in a new tattoo

Rebecca C. Philips, Lindsey A. Hunter-Ellul, Julie E. Martin, Michael G. Wilkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We report an uncommon case of a cutaneous infection with Mycobacterium fortuitum arising in a new tattoo. A 29-year-old man presented with a several month history of a non-pruritic papular eruption within a tattoo; the papules developed 1-to-2 weeks after the tattoo procedure. He denied similar symptoms with previous tattoos. He had been treated unsuccessfully with cephalexin. Histopathologic examination revealed perifollicular chronic and granulomatous inflammation, consistent with chronic folliculitis. Acid-fast bacilli culture identified Mycobacterium fortuitum complex. The patient was treated with a 2-month course of oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (160mg/800mg twice daily) and ciprofloxacin (250 mg twice daily), with clinical improvement at follow up after three weeks of the antibiotic regimen. Rapidly growing mycobacteria have emerged as a cause of tattoo-associated cutaneous infection in recent years. Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult without clinical suspicion. M. fortuitum and other rapidly growing mycobacteria should be considered in the differential diagnosis of tattoo-associated dermatologic complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDermatology Online Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Infection
  • Mycobacterium fortuitum
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria
  • Rapidly growing mycobacteria
  • Tattoo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mycobacterium fortuitum infection arising in a new tattoo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this