Trop Doct. 1992 ; 22 Suppl 1(): 7-14.
An approach to the patient with skin disease.
College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria.
We practise an integrated approach to the management of skin diseases, leprosy and sexually transmitted diseases because the latter diseases are still stigmatized and patients are unwilling to attend clinics so labelled. When approached by a patient with skin disease it is advisable to see the patient promptly, because any further delay encourages the use of assorted remedies which may lead to undesirable complications, physically, emotionally and financially. Since there is no health insurance scheme, it is also prudent to manage the patient as much as possible without admission to hospital and with minimal laboratory investigations, to save cost, so that the patient still has sufficient money to buy the required drugs. Family health workers treat patients at the primary health care (PHC) level. At this level, patients are managed by the use of specially prepared standing orders (SO), where checklists and flow charts are grouped by problems or complaints, to facilitate usage by an individual with minimal training in morphology. The SO presents, so far as is possible, the best treatment available for each condition, but which cannot be misused by the primary health care personnel. Before discussing the management of individual diseases, it is important for the reader to appreciate the milieu in which we practise which determines our approach to the patient with skin disease. Some of its features will be highlighted before the management of individual disorders is discussed.