ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
CAREGIVING
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Run for Your Life
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
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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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