Skin disease in United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon
Objectives Skin disease is one of the major components of health problems for soldiers either during war or peacetime. Despite increased numbers and scale of military missions, dermatological survey is limited. The aim of this study was to outline the dermatological profile in international peacekeepers in Lebanon and to explore the features of disease pattern. Methods The dermatological records of peacekeepers visiting a Chinese Level 2 hospital during a 7-year period were retrospectively assessed. Comparisons with previous reports of skin disease in military personnel were performed. Results A total of 1658 patients (91% men, with a mean age of 32 years) were included. More than half of them were Asian (62%). Dermatitis and eczema (27%) was the leading category. Tinea pedis (13%), lichen simplex chronicus (9%), unspecified dermatitis (8%), verruca vulgaris (7%) and alopecia areata (5%) were the top five complaints. Dermatitis and eczematous eruptions appeared to be the most common condition in troops deployed in the Middle East, whereas fungal infection was highly prevalent in tropical regions. Additionally, a remarkably high rate of alopecia areata was noted in two studies including ours. Conclusions Environment, group living, occupational activities and work-related stress act as initiating and/or aggravating factors in the development and/or spread of some conditions. The knowledge of disease profile empowers doctors to enforce preventive measures and prepare for treatment modalities. In particular, the underlying psychological component in lichen simplex chronicus and alopecia areata should be addressed appropriately.
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