Latest News – March 2015

Rwanda: A Visit to the Barbershop Could Leave You With a Skin Disease

By Ivan Ngoboka

Peter Gasarasi, 45, a resident of Kiyovu, a Kigali city suburb, always has a clean shaven head and chin. Interestingly, the last time he visited a barbershop was 5 years ago. Instead some enclosure in his five roomed house is host to clippers, pair of scissors, a smoother, after shave cream, methyl spirit, and a mirror hanging on the wall. And this way he is able to take care of his own hair.

"Hair dandruff and rashes on the chin especially had become part of me when I was still using public salons, but that stopped ever since I stopped going there," Gasarasi says.

He says the biggest turnoff was when he saw a barber use a blood stained clipper on five people consecutively without sterilising, only pausing to clean it with a shoe brush.


Alfred Gatabarwa, a general practitioner with Abbey Family Clinic, Remera, says the dangers that may emerge from such negligent practices in a barbershop are immense, ranging from transmission of skin diseases like scabies, fungal infections, ringworms, warts and other bacterial infections to more severe diseases like Hepatitis B, C and HIV/Aids.

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How to find the cause of skin problems at work

By Chris Packham on 19 Feb 2015 in Health surveillance

skin workWhen employees develop skin problems at work, they usually believe that there is a simple explanation as to the cause. While this is possible, there are usually many contributing factors, some of which may originate outside the workplace. Chris Packham investigates.

When trying to get to the root of a skin problem, the following should be considered:

  • there may be no single cause, but a combination of factors that jointly cause the skin problem;
  • the problem may be only partly due to occupational conditions and non-occupational exposures may be the primary, or a significant contributory factor; and
  • constitutional factors, eg atopy, about which the employee may have had no prior knowledge, may play a significant role.

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Chantelle Winnie: ‘I’m proud of my skin’

Chantelle Winnie

Chantelle Winnie is a model in demand: her army of fans includes artists, designers and photographers. She tells Eve Barlow about her journey from bullied schoolgirl to runway queen. But can she get to the point where the world doesn’t notice her vitiligo at all?

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A skin hardening condition that can be life-threatening

Scleroderma affects about 300,000 Americans.

There's no cure and doctors know very little about the mysterious disease.

Now, a new center is making it a mission to find out more.

Five-year-old Daphne Mura has a rare autoimmune disease called scleroderma that actually causes the skin to harden.

Dr. Suzanne Li from Hackensack University Children’s Hospital often stretches Daphne’s joints, which can get stiff.

"Sclero is hard, and derma is skin," says Dr. Li.

Daphne's mom, Rachael Mura, knew something was wrong for a while.

"She seemed to be more cautious than other children her age and not moving as quickly,” says Rachael Mura.

Dr. Li says when the condition affects kids, it can be challenging to treat.

Scleroderma is a chronic connective tissue disease that can cause severe hardening of the skin or other organs. The disease is also classified as an autoimmune rheumatic disease. The severity of the disease varies from patient to patient and is not contagious, infectious, cancerous or malignant.

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MauiDerm 2015: Research links Vitamin D, skin diseases

Do supplements help?

Researchers have detected a potential link between low vitamin D and alopecia areata, and a case report suggests the possibility that a rheumatoid arthritis drug could treat not only alopecia areata but also alopecia totalis, one expert told colleagues during the Maui Derm 2015 meeting this week.

Ted Rosen, M.D., professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine and Chief of Dermatology at the Houston VA Medical Center, told colleagues about findings of previous research that has linked low levels of Vitamin D to a variety of skin diseases, including psoriasis, melanoma, Behcet’s syndrome and polymorphous light eruption. It’s not clear what’s going on, Dr. Rosen says, although it’s not necessarily a cause-and-effect situation. Perhaps, he says, people with skin conditions are hesitant about going outside and don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun.

New research from Ireland links low levels to Vitamin D to 63% of hidradenitis patients, while another study from Turkey finds that 91% of alopecia areata patients had low levels.

Dermatologists should test Vitamin D in alopecia areata patients or at least suggest that they get their levels checked at their next physical, Dr. Rosen says.

It’s not clear what dermatologists can do if the levels are low, he says, although there are reports that Vitamin D supplements prescribed to psoriasis patients have improved alopecia areata to some extent.

As for alopecia totalis, Dr. Rosen says it’s “almost impossible” to treat, but a new case study found full regrowth in a patient who took the Janus kinase inhibitor tofacitinib for psoriasis. While more study is needed, he says, the drug may help both alopecia areata and alopecia totalis.

Read Vitamin D deficiency and sun exposure

Read Vitamin D: increasing supplement use among at risk groups


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The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.

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