COMMON SKIN DISEASES
Skin conditions are very common. They are a constant concern for the patient
and the medic. Usually, more than one-third of the overall sick call load is related to
skin conditions. The single most contributing factor to skin diseases is poor personal
hygiene. Educating the troops is the best preventive measure for skin diseases. As
you read this lesson, remember that the soldiers in your unit will depend on your
expertise for the prevention and treatment of skin conditions. Also, remember the
adage, "If it is wet, use a wet dressing, and if it is dry, use a salve." This saying is true
for the majority of skin diseases.
SKIN DISEASES PERTAINING TO COMMON DERMATOSES
(1) Definition/characteristics. Eczema is the general name for a group of
noncontagious inflammatory skin diseases. These diseases have a tendency toward
erythema (redness of the skin), swelling edema (presence of abnormally large amounts
of fluid in the intercellular tissue spaces), vesiculation (small bladder or sac containing
fluid), oozing, weeping, and crusting with itching. Eczematous dermatoses are those
skin diseases where changes seen in eczema are apparent. Nummular eczema are
round, coin-shaped lesions. These lesions are most commonly found on extremities
near or on surfaces where muscles extend joints, shoulders, and buttocks. The cause
of nummular eczema is not known. It is proven that winter, bathing, and soaps
aggravate this skin condition. Hand eczema has the characteristics of scaling, crusting,
and fissuring (grooving). The dorsa (back) of the hands is a common location. A
common cause of hand eczema is prolonged contact with soaps and detergents. Ear
eczema (otitis externa) is usually found on the external auditory canal, and seborrheic
dermatitis (dry, moist, or greasy scaling) is normally found in the same area.
(2) Treatment. To treat eczema, you should apply cold, wet compresses
and antipruritic medications (agents that relieve itching, burning, and pain). Air dry the
area and use bland dusting powders. Apply topical antibiotics for secondary infections.
If neomycin is used, be aware that the patient may become sensitive to the drug
(experience excessive skin reactions) and use of the drug may need to be discontinued.
Another medication that can be applied topically is a steroid cream (with hydrocortisone
one percent). Refer all cases that are chronic or acute and unresponsive to
conservative topical therapy to a medical doctor. Treat all underlying diseases, if