'Telederm from theater': Online skincare management consultations assist military doctors

May 1, 2009

Dermatologists play a key role in the health and well-being of armed services throughout the world. Climate, hygiene and environmental factors all contribute to the spread of cutaneous disorders and infections.

Key Points

San Antonio - Dermatologists play a key role in the health and well-being of armed services members throughout the world. Climate, hygiene and environmental factors all contribute to the spread of cutaneous disorders and infections.

"I think what people are surprised to learn is that there is a large dermatology presence in the military," says Lt. Col. Darryl Shaw Hodson, M.D., chief of cutaneous laser surgery, Brooke Army and Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Centers, San Antonio.

"People really like you, because there are a lot of things they don't quite understand as well as you do," Dr. Hodson says.

Dermatologic care is no longer available only at larger field hospitals, he says.

A "boots-on-ground" medical presence is crucial, and there is no substitute for immediate clinical care. In the modern world, however, military hands-on care is augmented by "telederm from theater" - online dermatology consultations.

Since April 2004, "telederm" has assisted in the treatment of thousands of cases, with an average response time of four to five hours.The synergy between deployed dermatologists on the ground and electronic assistance from doctors "back home" assures that military personnel, contract workers and local civilians receive prompt, appropriate disease management, he says.