A 13-month-old girl presented with red finger marks on both shoulders thought initially to be secondary to child abuse. The appearance of the marks was not typical of bruising of the stated age and there were no social concerns or other medical features of child abuse. Direct questioning revealed that the mother had been gardening on a sunny day and had picked the child up prior to the appearance of the marks. The marks are thought to represent a phytophotodermatitis. Many paediatric skin conditions can mimic child abuse. Recognition of this further possibility will prevent avoidable errors of diagnosis.