A dermatologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr Otrofanowei Erere, has called for more awareness on skin-related diseases to reduce their effects on people’s health. Dr Erere said in Lagos that weather, environment, lifestyle and personal hygiene could be responsible for the spread of skin diseases. She said: “We see a lot of skin diseases and what we see are peculiar to the environment.”

The dermatologist said acne and eczema were common, adding that many suffer from them irrespective of their gender or age. “We also have skin lightening and different fungal infections on the skin, scalp, hair and private area. There are many cases of warts, sexually transmitted diseases, contact warts and others. “Humidity will always allow people to have fungal infections, as such have high rate of fungal infections, which people live with. “These people, however, may not die from these fungal infections but sometimes, suffer social and psychological effects, and generally reduce the quality of life,” she said.

Some infectious diseases, Erere said, are still in the environment, adding: “We still encounter cases of people with leprosy, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and others. We can help most of them but the point to note is that people are not aware that they exist.” People, she said, should stop assuming that infections were small things that would go away by themselves. Dr Erere said skin disorders also cause discomfort, irritation and embarrassment, stressing that they can lead to stigmatisation, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies.

The dermatologist advised that skin disorders should be taken seriously, even at the community level. She said healthcare workers must be able to identify skin diseases and make referrals to appropriate professionals, particularly those at the primary health level, such as the primary healthcare workers, community nurses and the community health extension workers (CHEWS). “Also, schools and churches need to let people know the importance of having healthy skin. Emphasis should also be placed on living in clean environment, regular washing of clothes and bodies with soap and clean water, as well as consulting the right personnel whenever issues of skin discomfort arise,’’ Dr Erere said.

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