Touch me not: Many sexually transmitted infections have no signs, warns expert – The Express Tribune

by Symptom Advice on March 18, 2012

Moisturising, for all skin types — dry, oily or combination — is of prime importance in the harsh weather. CREATIVE COMMONS

KARACHI: Human contact is one of the main transmitters of skin diseases, said the doctors at the dermatology seminar organised on Sunday for the 22nd Biennial International Convention of Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA).

Prof. Dr Ijaz Ahmed of Ziauddin Hospital said poor hygiene as one of the main causes of scabies, a bacterial disease which causes mild to severe itching. Its classic symptoms are small pink or red dots or bumps that look like hives, tiny bites, or pimples. It is a highly contagious disease and tends to spread among family members within one to two weeks.

“It takes 21 days to manifest in another family member,” he said. Diabetics and people with a low immune system are more susceptible to it.

Diabetes, along with a hot climate and poor hygiene, are predisposing factors for fungal infections, explained Prof. Dr Azam Jah Samdani, the head of dermatology at Jinnah hospital. almost 90 per cent of fungal infections are superficial and can be transmitted through people-to-people contact, contact with animals and even the environment.

Doctors also dwelt on genital infections, which they said are just as common in men as in women. “Vaginal infections are often missed or misdiagnosed by gynaecologists in Pakistan,” said Samdani. It is imperative that patient’s partner is treated as well.

He ended his presentation by reminding doctors in the audience that dermatology is just about treating people with steroids which can increase the severity of the disease.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

According to Dr Sharaf Ali Shah, the Bridge Consultants Foundation executive director, sexual promiscuity, sex work, unprotected sex, drug use and even living away from one’s family could lead to STIs.

He listed syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes and genital warts as some of the most common infections.

Shah said that STIs are still misdiagnosed by a large number of practitioners. Apart from the classical symptoms such as blisters and difficulty in passing urine, STIs in some cases can also cause mouth ulcers. Doctors have to be very thorough in their examinations as these symptoms can often be painless or non-existent. “50 per cent of women who have STIs may be asymptomatic,” said Shah. “In Pakistan, such infections are neglected. Doctors and patients alike need to be aware that late treatment could even result in death.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.

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