News in brief: Frontal fibrosing alopecia in males; How to treat skin manifestations of COVID-19; SunSmart app goes global

Tuesday, 28 Jun 2022

Frontal fibrosing alopecia in males

Frontal fibrosing alopecia may occur in men concurrently with age-related alopecia, according to Australian clinicians who found that most cases responded successfully to treatment with oral minoxidil and an oral 5alpha reductase inhibitor.

Dr Anthony Moussa and colleagues from Sinclair Dermatology Melbourne have described the clinical characteristic of frontal fibrosing alopecia in a case series of 13 male patients, published in the International Journal of Dermatology.

The mean age of onset was 41 years and the disease was characterised by a high incidence of sideburn, eyebrow, and beard hair loss. Almost one in four cases occurred concurrently with androgenetic alopecia. The patients were managed with oral minoxidil 0.25 to 10 mg daily, combined with oral finasteride or dutasteride, with several patients also treated with topical steroids (clobetasol propionate) or other immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory therapies such as minocycline.

Treatment resulted in disease stabilisation in eight patients (62%) after a mean duration of six months.

How to treat skin manifestations of COVID-19

Australian dermatologists have published some lessons from practice for dealing with the skin manifestations of COVID-19.

Patients with COVID-19 may present with cutaneous symptoms including chilblains on the fingers and toes, or urticarial rashes and  vesicular lesions, according to a paper co-authored by Professor Saxon Smith published in the MJA.

While most lesions will be self resolving, some may require treatment with medium or high potency topical corticosteroids, oral antihistamines or systemic corticosteroids for symptomatic relief, the authors advise.

They recommend that patients presenting with new chilblain lesions of unclear cause have PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 within seven days of the onset of lesions, and testing for IgM and IgG antibodies should be considered if lesions persist.

However coinciding drug therapy reactions are a possible confounding factor for cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19, they note.

SunSmart app goes global

Australia’s pioneering SunSmart app for protecting against skin cancer risk is going global in a collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Originally developed in 2010 for Australian’s high UV environment, the free phone app has now been adapted by Cancer Council Victoria, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) to provide global advice.

Launched in WHO’s Geneva base the SunSmart Global UV app has been developed in partnership with Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2) using a unique weather data algorithm to create UV forecasts for anywhere in the world.

The new collaboration involves the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Labour Organization (ILO), aiming to reduce the number of people across the world developing skin cancer and experiencing UV-related eye damage.

“As Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, we fully appreciate the significant burden of skin cancer on people’s lives. Fortunately, through our world leading SunSmart program, we’ve learnt a lot about how to improve sun protection behaviours at a population level and so it’s exciting to share that knowledge globally,” said Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Group Executive, Community Services, Piero Chessa said the Bureau had included UV levels in its forecasting for many years and it was great to see use expanding.

“With one of the highest levels of UV exposure anywhere in the world, information on UV radiation is an essential daily input for Australians to manage their lives under the sun. The BOM Weather app has included UV index as a feature for some time now and it is pleasing to see this now being used to influence sun protection behaviours globally.”

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