ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Hidden Salt in Diet Haunts Many With Heart Failure
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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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