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NEWS | Feb. 7, 2014

Dermatology: Beyond skin deep

By Senior Airman Brittany Paerschke-O'Brien 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

No matter the ailment, if it affects the skin, the U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley Dermatology clinic is here to assist the needs of Service members.
With growing medical needs for military members, the dermatology clinic specializes in treating hair, skin, and nail conditions.

"Our mission is to provide consultative and direct dermatological care," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Meckell Woodruff, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron Dermatology clinic noncommissioned officer in charge. "[Dermatology clinic] will see patients that can't be treated at their primary care clinic or require a skin expert."

The Dermatology clinic treats active duty Service members and their dependents with referrals from their primary care physicians. Once the referral reaches referral management, the patient is then able to schedule an appointment with the clinic.

When a patient contacts the clinic to schedule an appointment, the clinic will refer them to another military treatment facility or a civilian provider if there is no availability within 28 days, or the patient isn't active duty of a dependent.

"We are always getting new patients. If a patient has already been seen by us, we will continue follow up appointments," said Woodruff. "We only have one dermatologist. We make a conscious effort to ensure that all of our active duty members are seen. "

The Dermatology clinic diagnoses and provides treatment for many different hair, skin and nail conditions, ranging from dermatitis to skin cancer as well as procedures such as laser treatments and chemical peels.

"We treat common conditions of the skin such as psoriasis, eczema, moles, skin infections, rashes and skin growths," said Woodruff. "We also evaluate and treat hair loss or disorders, and conditions of the nails."

To assist with these conditions, the Dermatology clinic can provide different treatments such as Botox injections and Phototherapy.

Botox injections help individuals diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes extensive sweating, when medicines used on the skin do not work.

The clinic also uses Phototherapy, a clinical approach of using ultraviolet light to treat various skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo.

Even though the Dermatology clinic can assist with a variety of conditions, the main goal is to find skin cancer, diagnose and treat it, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Boyd, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron chief of dermatology. One of their main concerns is aiding in prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer.

According to the Dermatology clinic, skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. Extensive exposure to sunlight, including tanning, is the main cause of skin cancer, especially when it results in sunburn and blisters. Service members who periodically self-examine their body for any skin changes can prevent potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Woodruff offers potentially lifesaving skin care advice to all Service members.

"Sun avoidance is the best defense against skin cancer," said Woodruff. "We encourage our patients to avoid intentional sun exposure, wear protective clothing and consistently use sunscreen."

Service members interested in being seen at the Dermatology clinic should contact their primary care physician.

The dermatology clinic is an example of how the U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley is continuously searching to satisfy and meet the health needs of its customers.