ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
CANCER
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Functional Foods Uncovered
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
EPA Alerts Seniors to Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Add your Article

Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Rashes, eczema and other common skin troubles can cause U.S. combat soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to be evacuated for treatment, a new report finds.

In the history of warfare, skin diseases have been responsible for poor morale and combat ineffectiveness, the researchers noted in the February issue of the Archives of Dermatology. In fact, in tropical and subtropical areas, more than half of the days lost by front line units are due to skin diseases.

"Although skin diseases are rarely fatal, they have significant morbidity; thus they have an appreciable effect on combat medicine and operational primary care," said study author Dr. Timothy A. McGraw, from the U.S. government's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the Pentagon Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic.

"This study evaluated a set of patients, all servicemen and women, who were evacuated from the war zones for ill-defined, non-traumatic skin conditions. The main outcome of the study was that dermatitis, benign melanocytic nevus [noncancerous moles], malignant neoplasms [skin cancers], urticaria [hives], and a group of nonspecific diagnoses were the most common post-evacuation diagnoses in our study population," McGraw said. "These diagnoses are similar to the most common dermatologic diagnoses from 20th-century wars."

"This is an important paper," added Dr. R. Rox Anderson, a dermatology professor at the Harvard Medical School Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. "There are a wide variety of skin problems, created or made worse by the conditions faced by soldiers. Prevention, proper diagnosis and treatment benefit the individual soldier and those who depend upon them."

The study shows the high frequency and wide range of skin conditions involved, from life-threatening lesions to conditions that wear soldiers down, increase their risk of infection or their ability to function well, leave permanent scarring, or are simply a nuisance, Anderson added.

"The study suggests that thorough skin evaluation prior to deployments, early diagnosis, prevention and prompt care on site, and the availability of expertise by telemedicine technologies would make a difference," Anderson said.

"With a few exceptions, such as infectious diseases endemic to the countries of conflict, military skin problems have not changed much since 20th century warfare. What has changed is our ability to potentially deal with them," he added.

For the study, McGraw's team collected data on 170 military personnel who left combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan for six ill-defined dermatologic reasons between 2003 and 2006.

In total, 154 soldiers were seen by dermatologists and the others were seen by other doctors. Thirty-four individuals were diagnosed with dermatitis or general skin inflammation, 16 with non-cancerous moles, 13 with skin cancer and 11 with no conclusive diagnosis. Chronic itchy rash, eczema, hives and psoriasis were the other common conditions, the researchers found.

Skin troubles can worsen with sun exposure and extremes in temperature and humidity, the researchers said. Diseases common to the combat area, as well as insects and crowded living conditions, can also exacerbate dermatologic woes. Other factors include difficulty maintaining personal hygiene and the chafing and sweating caused by body armor, helmets and other protective gear, McGraw noted.

Several measures will reduce the likelihood of evacuation from the war zone for skin problems, McGraw said. These include identifying individuals with chronic skin diseases during medical screening before they are deployed and emphasizing preventive measures to clinicians in the field.

Doctors also need to develop specific treatment plans for soldiers with skin problems so that they can participate in lengthy deployments without requiring frequent visits to a dermatologist. In addition, diagnosing skin problems in combat zones needs to be more accurate, McGraw said.

Dr. Steve Feldman, a professor of dermatology, pathology and public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., believes that better training could cut the need to evacuate patients with skin problems.

"The people evacuated were evacuated for common skin conditions that were largely benign," Feldman noted. "Had there been greater dermatological expertise on site, maybe they wouldn't have had to evacuate those folks."

Perhaps tele-dermatology, where patients are evaluated by doctors who are not on-scene, or better training in dermatological issues could reduce the need to evacuate these troops, he said.

More information

For more on various skin conditions, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Timothy A. McGraw, M.D., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., Pentagon Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic, Washington, D.C.; Steve Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., professor, dermatology, pathology and public health sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.; R. Rox Anderson, M.D., professor, dermatology, Harvard Medical School Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; February 2009 Archives of Dermatology

Last Updated: Feb. 17, 2009

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