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Tropical skin diseases in British military personnel
  1. Mark S Bailey1,2
  1. 1Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Department of Military Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Lt Col Mark S Bailey, Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Bordesley Green East, Birmingham B9 5ST, UK; markbailey{at}


Skin complaints are common in travellers to foreign countries and are responsible for up to 25% of medical consultations by military personnel during deployments in the tropics. They also have relatively high rates of field hospital admission, medical evacuation and referral to UK Role 4 healthcare facilities. Non-infectious tropical skin diseases include sunburn, heat rash, arthropod bites, venomous bites, contact dermatitis and phytophotodermatitis. During tropical deployments skin infections that commonly occur in military personnel may become more frequent, severe and difficult to treat. Several systemic tropical infections have cutaneous features that can be useful in making early diagnoses. Tropical skin infections such as cutaneous larva migrans, cutaneous myiasis, cutaneous leishmaniasis and leprosy do occur in British troops and require specialist clinical management. This illustrated review focuses on the most significant tropical skin diseases that have occurred in British military personnel in recent years. Clinical management of these conditions on deployments would be improved and medical evacuations could be reduced if a military dermatology ‘reach-back’ service (including a telemedicine facility) was available.

  • Tropical medicine < INFECTIOUS DISEASES
  • Skin diseases, infectious
  • Military personnel

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