Community dermatology in Debre Markos: an attempt to define children's dermatological needs in a rural area of Ethiopia.
ABSTRACT Skin diseases are very common in rural and urban areas in developing countries. Knowledge of the real frequency of the dermatological problems of Ethiopian children could help plan future intervention for early diagnosis and low cost "good practice" therapies.
We involved in the project two primary Ethiopian schools, attended by 1765 children from grade 1 to grade 4, who were screened to assess their general skin health conditions. All children were examined naked in good day light. To record data we used an EPIinfo questionnaire.
A total of 1104 children were screened. We registered a total number of 1086 dermatological problems, 876 of them were of infective origin mainly represented by fungal infections (36.1%). Tinea capitis represented 76% of the cases, tinea corporis 27% and tinea unguium 8%. Head lice affected 345 children. Viral infections accounted for 12%, most of them were warts.
We think our work highlights the general health and living conditions of Ethiopian school children. The dermatological problems affecting most of the children could improve just by better skin hygiene conditions. The presence at the community level of health workers trained to perform a correct and early diagnosis and distribute efficacious, low-cost therapies would be a relevant step forward. We think this project could help draw attention and interest to these issues.