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War Surgery and Medicine



In any future intake of recruits medical boards must be more particular in their inquiries into the skin condition of the recruit in civilian life. A follow-up is then necessary in camps to ensure that men are not sent overseas with skin diseases which are mild in New Zealand, but which would deteriorate in tropical or other conditions. The aid of a consultant skin specialist might well be made use of. In addition, each hospital unit in an overseas force should have a skin specialist on its staff.

The whole question of the boarding of recruits with mild degrees of skin pathology is of the greatest importance. These conditions are very common, especially in the adolescent, when they might almost be looked upon as a phase in development. If some skin abnormality is considered sufficient to make a man unfit for service in the Army, then there will be at once a great waste of manpower in men otherwise quite fit for service, and, in the adolescents, in men who will overcome their skin trouble naturally by the mere effluxion of time. Many of the diseases again cause little or no disability, and in times of stress could be disregarded by the man; and in possibly the majority of men in the Army the conditions are disregarded.

There is an inherent danger in specialisation in that the skin specialist, like his colleagues in other departments, is apt to pay too much attention to the minor disabilities, especially when they prove refractory and impossible to cure. If specialists had the page 702 care and boarding of every case there might be a grave danger of decimating the Army. On the other hand, their advice regarding treatment and the disposal of serious cases is, of course, invaluable.