Pitted keratolysis; physicians’ treatment and their perceptions in Dutch army personnel

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Pitted keratolysis (PK) is a common plantar skin manifestation in army personnel, farmers and athletes. Due to pain while walking and marching, the condition can cause reduced operational deployability (in case of army personnel).


We used a questionnaire to investigate currently used treatment options of PK and perceptions on perceived efficacy of these treatments among Royal Netherlands Armed Forces primary health care physicians.


A cross-sectional anonymous postal questionnaire survey was conducted among all Royal Netherlands Armed Forces primary health care physicians. In addition to question about prescription behaviour on the treatment of PK by topical and oral therapies and given non-pharmacological treatment, several questions assessed perceived efficacy of these therapies.


Of the 164 eligible primary health care physicians, 51 (31.1%) completed the questionnaire. Half of physicians had seen less than five patients with PK in the preceding year. Two-thirds of physicians reported problems with operational deployability in less than 10% of army personnel with PK. PK was treated mostly with topical and non-pharmacological treatments. Oral therapy was seldom prescribed. For hyperhidrosis, aluminium chloride hexahydrate was used in most cases.


PK and related reduced operational deployability were less often reported than expected in this study. Dutch physicians prefer combined topical antibiotic therapy with non-pharmacological treatments and perceive the efficacy of topical antibiotic therapy superior to non-pharmacological treatments. Preventive measures, topical antibiotic therapy and adequate treatment of hyperhidrosis are the mainstay methods in the management of patients with PK.

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