Eczema is a common skin condition in Singapore. Also known as dermatitis, it refers to inflammation of the skin. It frequently causes red, itchy and scaly skin. There are many types and causes of eczema. We will share briefly about the common types.
Atopic, coming from the word atopy, refers to sensitivity. This is the type of eczema that many of us are familiar with. It is caused by a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen, and in Singapore, this is commonly the house dust mite. Those with atopic dermatitis often also have a history of sensitive nose and asthma. Common places affected are the insides of the elbows and knees, neck, hands and feet and the face. The first step of treatment is to avoid the possible allergen and moisturize intensely. Steroid creams can also help calm the inflammation.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
This occurs when the skin is injured by an irritant. Common irritants are water, detergents, acids and alkalis. Those with atopic dermatitis are particularly vulnerable. It is common among those who must often wash their hands at work, such as cleaners and hawkers. Avoidance of the irritant is crucial for resolution of symptoms. We recommend wearing gloves at work. Like atopic dermatitis, frequent moisturizing is also a must, and steroid creams can be a short-term treatment solution.
This is a common form of eczema that affects areas that are rich in oil glands, such as the face, the scalp and the eyebrows. It is caused by an abnormal reaction of the body towards a usually harmless fungus that lives on the skin. Anti-fungal lotions and steroid creams can be used to treat the symptoms.
There are other less common types of eczemas. If you think you might have eczema, come by our clinic for a consult and examination.
Fungus can affect almost any part of the body.
On the skin, infections from fungus can come in different forms. On the body, one of the more common presentations would be a round, red, itchy and scaly rash. This is known as tinea versicolour, also frequently called a ringworm infection. It is often caused by Trichophytum Rubrum. The first line of treatment is with an anti-fungal cream. In severe cases, oral anti-fungal medications might be required.
Fungal infections on the nails are also quite common, particularly the toenails. They present in the form of discoloured, loose and deformed nails. They usually require an anti-fungal nail lotion or oral anti-fungal tablets. Fungal infections can sometimes be stubborn to treat and prone to recurrence.
When they occur on the feet, they are colloquially known as Athlete’s Foot (medically known as tinea pedis). It is characterised by an itchy, scaly rash, often on the sole of the foot, or between the toes. It is common among athletes (hence the name) and soldiers. Athlete’s Foot is notoriously contagious and often recurs. It can be spread from contact with wet gym floors, infected towels, shoes and socks. It can also spread to the body and groin, causing ringworms. Athlete’s Foot can be treated with antifungal creams or tablets.
Warts are a common viral infection caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). They may take on various appearances, from a flat lesion covered with thick scaly skin, to a cauliflower like appearance. Common sites of infection are the feet, fingers and genitals. These lesions are highly contagious. Wearing shoes in the gym showers and practising safe sex can lessen your chances of being infected with a wart. Obtaining the HPV vaccine may also protect against certain strains of viruses that are responsible for causing warts.
Warts can occasionally resolve by themselves. Otherwise, they may also be treated with medicated lotions or be frozen off. If you suspect you might have a wart, let us have a look and we can discuss with you what your options are.
What is flu?
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused
by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe disease. In severe cases, it
can result in hospitalization or even death. Certain groups of people are at high risk
of serious complications, such as older people, young children, and people with
chronic medical conditions.
Flu is spread through respiratory droplets that are transmitted in the air and breathed
in by another person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
There are 3 main types of influenza virus: Types A, B and C. Types A and B are the
ones responsible for the seasonal outbreaks annually.
What are the signs and symptoms of flu?
Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and includes high fever (usually
38 degrees or more), chills, sweats, muscle aches, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough,
fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness and headaches
Who are at high risk of developing complications from flu?
Some groups of people are at high risk of developing serious complications from
influenza that can result in hospitalization or even death. They are:
Elderly aged 65 years and older;
Children below the age of 5, especially those under the age of 2
People who have chronic disorders of the lungs (including asthma) or heart
People who suffer from chronic metabolic diseases, diabetes, kidneydiseases, liver diseases, neurological and neurodevelopmental diseases
People with blood disorders like thalassemia and sickle cell disease
People with weakened immunity (eg on immune suppressing medications,
HIV infection, cancer)
Children and teenagers under 18 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
People who are obese, with a BMI of 40 or more
Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
The annual flu vaccine is most important and beneficial for those who have a high
risk of developing severe complications (see list above) from an influenza infection.
Unless advised otherwise by a doctor, it is recommended for all individuals to go for
the annual flu vaccination even if they are healthy, especially if they live with or take
care of people at high risk of developing complications. It is also advisable for
healthcare workers to get their annual flu vaccination as they may be regularly
exposed to influenza viruses and risk spreading it to their patients, family and
Who shouldn’t get the flu vaccine?
Children under 6 months old and people who have severe, life-threatening allergic
reactions to the vaccine or any of its ingredient(s)
Individuals should talk with their doctor before getting the flu shot if they
Have had a severe allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
Have had Guillian Barre Syndrome
Are not feeling well
What are the side effects of the flu vaccine?
Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a
few days. Common side effects from the flu shot include:
Localized soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the site of the injection
Low grade fever
Rarely, the flu vaccine can cause mild or severe allergic reactions. Consult with a
doctor before the flu vaccination
Why do you need annual vaccinations?
It is recommended to have yearly vaccinations to get the best protection because flu
viruses are constantly changing and the body’s immunity to the flu viruses may
When to get vaccinated?
As it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccination to take effect, it is best to get
vaccinated early before the flu season starts. In Singapore, the flu season usually
occurs between December to February and from May to July.
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that exists in many of us. It can be spread through sexual contact. There are many types of HPV. Some are found to cause warts and cancers in areas like the cervix, anus, penis and vulva. It can also cause cancers in the back of the throat. Strains 16 and 18 account for 70% of cervical cancer cases.
Not everyone with HPV will develop cancer and warts, and there is no way to predict who will, but it is postulated that those with weaker immune system (such as those with AIDS) might be more susceptible.
One of the ways of preventing a HPV infection is through vaccination. Currently, there are 3 vaccines in the market; Cervarix, Gardasil 4, and Gardasil 9. They cover 2, 4 and 9 HPV strains respectively. All of them cover against the 2 main strains that can cause cancer. They all consist of three doses.
HPV vaccination is recommended for females under the age of 27. The efficacy for those who have it older has not been established in studies yet, but there can still be some benefits. It is also increasingly popular among males locally and overseas. Feel free to speak to your doctor more about the efficacy of the vaccination if you fall into any of these groups.
We know that the vaccines are highly effective because countries with high HPV vaccination coverage, such as Australia, has seen a decrease in the number of cases of genital warts and cervical cancer since making it part of the national vaccination programme.
Singapore has recently allowed Secondary 1 female students to opt in for free HPV vaccination with Cervarix. But if you are looking for greater coverage against other strains that can cause warts, Gardasil 4 and 9 are options that you can consider.
The HPV vaccine is safe. As with most vaccinations, there might be some mild side effects. Common ones include swelling, soreness and redness over the injected area for a few days. Some have a mild fever after vaccination that usually resolves by itself. Allergic reactions are rare.