- More than 1 million Americans travel to developing nations each year.
- Travelers are at risk for illnesses or injury due to infections and environmental hazards that are uncommon in industrialized nations.
- Up to 75 percent of travelers report some health impairment during or immediately after traveling abroad.
- It is estimated that up to 10 percent of travelers have infections or illnesses related directly to their skin.
- Sun overexposure is the most frequent dermatologic problem experienced by tourists in South America.
- The increased presence of the United States military in developing countries has exposed thousands of soldiers and supporting personnel to dermatologic diseases unusual in North America.
Tropical skin infections
- This infection is caused by larvae from dog and cat feces after it is deposited on beaches.
- When the larvae penetrates the traveler's skin, red fluid-filled bumps form in a winding pattern as the worm advances a few millimeters per day.
- A dermatologist can prescribe an oral medication to treat this infection.
- This infection is caused when a fertilized female sand flea penetrates a traveler's skin and burrows into tissue. The infection is characterized by an itchy lesion normally located on the soles of the feet or toes.
- The lesion appears as a whitish, round-shaped nodule on the skin with a black central spot.
- A dermatologist can remove the nodule by performing a simple surgical procedure that does not require anesthesia.
- This infection develops after a human botfly larvae egg is deposited in human tissue by a blood-sucking insect.
- The initial infection has a boil-like appearance that may be accompanied by some discharge.
- Eventually the larvae protrude through the infection site and patients may experience a stinging sensation as if there were something moving inside the skin.
- A dermatologist can surgically remove the larvae after a diagnosis has been established.
Tropical fungal infections
- This is the most common fungal infection in South America and normally is transmitted after the skin is punctured by a thorn or an animal bite.
- The affected skin becomes inflamed, red, and tender and may become ulcerated and secrete fluids.
- First prescribed in 1903, the same oral medication is still an effective treatment today.
- A group of fungal infections that enter the body through contact with wood splinters or thorns.
- Most common on the arms and legs, the infection begins as pink, scaly pimples that progress to lumps with black dots.
- In addition to oral medications, a surgical procedure known as cryosurgery (the application of extreme cold to destroy diseased tissue) also has been shown to be an effective treatment.
- This is a rare fungal infection that causes a traveler's palms or soles to darken.
- It may be confused with melanoma, and it can be treated with a topical fungal cream.
White and black piedra
- Affecting the hair shaft, this fungal infection causes small brittle bumps that resemble stones.
- Black piedra is found only on scalp hairs of travelers in tropical areas.
- White piedra can be found on hairs that cover the entire human body.
- These infections can be treated by shaving the hair or shampooing with an anti-fungal medication.
See your dermatologist for successful diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions.