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CDC/Joe Miller/Reed and Crnrick Pharmaceuticals

Skin diseases are often overlooked as less important illnesses, though they are a common ailment affecting patients, particularly in tropical locales. The greatest reduction in the burden of skin diseases would come from controlling scabies, pyoderma, fungal infections, tropical ulcers, HIV/AIDS–related dermatoses, and pigmentary disorders.

Scabies and pyoderma can be treated with oral or topical medication; however, without communitywide attention to the spread of these diseases, personalized treatment can only offer respite, as these illnesses result from a sufferer's own close living quarters, making patients primed for reinfection. Tropical ulcers are best cared for through proper hygiene and wound maintenance. Better screening is needed for HIV/AIDS–related skin diseases, such as papular pruritic eruption of HIV, since the itchy papules are often mistaken for acne. Pigmentary disorders should be monitored, given that these afflictions often lead to more serious illnesses such as skin cancer.

Effective treatment for skin diseases is needed for a variety of reasons: the sheer number of afflicted patients, the prevalence of chronic discomfort and disability, the high cost attached to continual skin treatment, and the opportunity to screen for other diseases such as leprosy. Possible cost–effective measures to explore include community education programs and training nonspecialized health workers to handle common skin problems.