Unconventional medicine in dermatology outpatients in Turkey

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Abstract

Background

Many people use unconventional therapies for health problems, but the extent and pattern of this use in dermatology have not been studied in detail. This article reports the first investigation on the use of unconventional therapies in dermatology in Turkey.

Aim

To determine the prevalence and characteristics of unconventional therapies used by dermatology outpatients in Turkey.

Methods

A questionnaire was employed to determine the use of unconventional therapies in patients attending a dermatology clinic in Ankara, Turkey. The patients were questioned about the number of attendances at dermatology clinics, whether they had ever used unconventional therapies and/or drugs without the suggestion of a medical doctor for the current dermatologic disorder, and the forms of unconventional therapies employed. The data were compared statistically with the age, sex, and education status of the patients.

Results

The respondents included 443 men and 563 women, with a total of 1006 patients. The mean age of the patients was 36.62 ± 17.55 years. Of the 1006 patients, 337 (33.5%) had used at least one form of unconventional therapy. The most common diagnoses of the patients using unconventional therapy were acne, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and fungal infections. The most frequent forms of unconventional therapy used by the patients were humectants, cologne, spiritual healing, and herbs. Unconventional therapy use according to the sex, age, and education status of the patients did not show any significant difference. A significant relationship was found between some forms of unconventional therapy and some skin disorders, including: generalized pruritus and application of cologne; warts and spiritual healing; fungal infections and application of henna; psoriasis and herbal therapy or spiritual healing; alopecia areata and application of garlic; acne and application of lemon juice, clay, or cosmetics.

Conclusion

Regardless of patient age, sex, and education status, dermatology outpatients use unconventional therapies for their health. Dermatologists should be aware of the tendency of patients to use unconventional therapies and should guide patients towards the use of harmless treatments.

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