Combat Dermatology: The Prevalence of Skin Disease in a Deployed DermatologyClinic in Iraq

March 2010 | Volume 9 | Issue 3 | Original Article | 210 | Copyright © March 2010

Maj. J. Scott Henning DO and Bahar F. Firoz MD MPH

Background: Since July 2004, the United States (U.S.) Army has operated a forward-deployed dermatology clinic in Baghdad, Iraq. This paper outlines the prevalence of skin disease among deployed service men and women in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed for all dermatology visits presenting to the Combat Dermatology Clinic, Ibn Sina, Iraq, between January 15, 2008 and July 15, 2008.

Results: In the six-month period reviewed, 2,696 total patients were evaluated. The most prevalent diagnoses included eczematous dermatitis [17%, n=462] and benign neoplasms [14%, n=375]. Eight percent (n=205) of the total visits were for skin cancer. This included: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma both in-situ and invasive, mycosis fungoides and melanoma. Actinic keratosis comprised 5% of the total visits (n=129). Bacterial infections comprised 6% (n=158) of the total visits and 31 of these cases were community acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Limitations: Cross-sectional study with referral bias.

Conclusion: This is the largest publication of the prevalence of skin disease in an exclusively dermatologic clinic in a combat setting. For the first time the presence of skin cancer is noted in a combat setting. The prevalence of MRSA is noted and was exclusively seen in U.S. soldiers. There was a statistically significant rise in the prevalence of eczematous dermatitides when compared with previous conflicts. Dermatologists can have a significant and strategic impact on deployed military medicine.