Back to Top Skip to main content

Caring for skin goes deeper than applying lotion

Heather Carter, an above-knee amputee, participates in a therapy session at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Caring for skin around amputation sites is one of the most critical roles of a military dermatologist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean Kimmons) Heather Carter, an above-knee amputee, participates in a therapy session at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Caring for skin around amputation sites is one of the most critical roles of a military dermatologist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean Kimmons)

Recommended Content:

Extremities Loss | Public Health | Preventive Health

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — As a cold snap takes over, we quickly feel the effects of dry hair and itchy skin. We pay attention if a rash develops or if we lose pigment in our complexion. These are changes we can easily see. Protecting ourselves from harmful sunburn or improving skin’s appearance can be other common skin concerns for us. But in a dermatologist’s world, that’s not all there is to skin.

When Army Colonel Jon Meyerle returned from Kuwait in 2008, a significant number of wounded service members were arriving at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who had survived the war but lost limbs. The director at Walter Reed’s Military Advanced Training Center, or MATC, sought his input as a dermatologist to successfully outfit amputees with the latest in prosthetics.

Army Colonel Jon Meyerle, sits in front of a total body digital skin imaging system. The system takes standardized, full-body photographs of patients to help track changes in skin conditions over time. Images can be assessed by a patient’s medical provider at a later date. (Courtesy Photo)Army Colonel Jon Meyerle, sits in front of a total body digital skin imaging system. The system takes standardized, full-body photographs of patients to help track changes in skin conditions over time. Images can be assessed by a patient’s medical provider at a later date. (Courtesy Photo)

“It was my first exposure to amputee care," Meyerle said. “A high percentage of people with lower extremity amputations suffer from skin disease and are unable to wear prosthetics due to skin breakdown at the stump site from bearing weight.”

Meyerle says amputees can have issues with sweating, skin breakdown, ulcers, and allergic reactions to prosthetic socket material. Stump skin may undergo other changes due to a poorly fitting prosthesis. In his research, Meyerle is looking for ways to make the amputee stump skin more like skin on the palms of our hands or soles of our feet.

“The idea is, if you can toughen that skin, you can make the stump more resistant to the friction, heat and other irritants that you're exposed to when you're wearing a prosthesis," said Meyerle, who uses the full arsenal of cosmetic and dermatological tools at his disposal. These include injecting Botox at the stump site to stop sweating, and using laser hair removal to reduce hair growth and help the prosthesis socket fit better.

“Wearing a prosthesis requires the kind of skin care someone in a tropical environment needs when wearing boots all the time,” he said.

When not practicing military dermatology, conducting research, or seeing patients, Meyerle oversees 18 residents from both the Army and Navy as director for the military's largest dermatology residency training program at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. He also teaches medical students, non-dermatologists, and health care extenders, like nurses.

Meyerle’s specialty is treating autoimmune disorders of the skin that result in blistering, medical dermatology conditions, and skin cancer – these areas are his primary research focus, along with work on amputee skin care, teledermatology, and standardized body scan imaging.

"Dermatologists see men, women, old, young, and every age in between,” said Meyerle. “People come to look younger with Botox, fillers, or other cosmetic procedures, like getting rid of spider veins.”

He identified warts, acne, and eczema as common reasons people pursue treatment, and said children see dermatologists for vascular malformations, like a birth mark. Most often, older people see dermatologists for various skin diseases, skin cancer, and pre-cancer, he said.

According to Meyerle, dermatologists eyeball the skin for moles that “don't fit.” If they see a concerning one, dermatologists often will view it under magnification with a dermatoscope. Meyerle’s research with standardized imaging is a potential diagnostic aid that could help identify high-risk lesions.

"The promise of standardized skin imaging is tracking people over time,” said Meyerle. “If lesions or moles on the skin change, an imaging machine can tell you what is new or different. Comparing images allows you to decide whether to continue monitoring or to do a biopsy. Imaging could mean fewer dermatologists can do the work of many,” he added.

Without skin imaging widely available to patients, we have to visually monitor moles on our skin. Meyerle says patients can do monthly self-skin examinations by following “the ABCDE rule,” which stands for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolution. While doing self-scans, Meyerle recommends looking for uneven moles – those with a jagged edge, atypical colors, or multiple colors, or moles larger than a pencil eraser. Meyerle says keeping an eye on moles that change over time is particularly important.

"People can get new moles until their 50s,” he said. “So, just because you get a new mole, that doesn't mean it is concerning.”

Meyerle said moles do change over time. They can lose pigment; become more raised or elevated; and in women, they can change during pregnancy. Recognizing bad moles is a process of pattern recognition. It’s also one of many ways a military dermatologist stands on guard for patient health and well-being.

You also may be interested in...

Heat rash is common when the mercury climbs

Article
8/14/2018
Heat rash is common in the warm summer months, but military personnel and amputees may be especially at risk. (Courtesy photo)

Anyone can be affected, including children and adults

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Public Health

Getting off tobacco road leads to renewed relief

Article
8/10/2018
Stopping smoking can be difficult, but healthy living is a daily effort. Take command of your health today. (U.S. Army graphic by Karin Martinez)

One service member’s struggle to become smoke-free

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Tobacco-Free Living

Three ways to protect your health through preventive care

Article
8/9/2018
Being active lowers your risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kathryn Calvert)

Preventive services include vaccines, exams, and screenings

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

The things head lice carry: Stigma and hassle, but no harm

Article
7/31/2018
Lice are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads, and bodies. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood. (EPA photo)

Lice – a common affliction in school children – are gross but harmless

Recommended Content:

Bug Week 2018: What's the Buzz All About? | Public Health | Summer Safety

Acute Injuries

Infographic
7/25/2018
Service members in the U.S. Armed Forces frequently engage in high levels of physical activity to perform their duties, and such activity can potentially result in training- or duty-related injury.  This report summarizes the incidence, trends, types, external causes, and dispositions of acute injuries among active component U.S. service members over a 10-year surveillance period.

Service members in the U.S. Armed Forces frequently engage in high levels of physical activity to perform their duties, and such activity can potentially result in training- or duty-related injury. This report summarizes the incidence, trends, types, external causes, and dispositions of acute injuries among active component U.S. service members over ...

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Food Allergy

Infographic
7/25/2018
Individuals with a history of food-allergy anaphylaxis or a systemic reaction to food do not meet military accession or retention standards and require a waiver in order to serve in the military.  First-line treatment for anaphylaxis includes rapid administration of epinephrine.

Individuals with a history of food-allergy anaphylaxis or a systemic reaction to food do not meet military accession or retention standards and require a waiver in order to serve in the military. First-line treatment for anaphylaxis includes rapid administration of epinephrine.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Preparing for travel can prevent illness

Article
7/17/2018
Experts encourage overseas travelers to seek advice from a health care provider before leaving on a trip, and to make sure recommended vaccinations are up to date (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

Experts encourage travelers to be proactive about their travel medicine needs, including learning about the health risks associated with the destination and checking with their doctor to make sure they’re in good health

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Immunizations | Summer Safety

Environmental health works behind the scenes to keep Soldiers ready

Article
7/8/2018
Army Spc. Johnathan Vargas from Environmental Health at Kenner Army Health Clinic conducts a water test using a LaMontte water quality kit at the Fort Lee dining facility while conducting an inspection recently. (U.S. Army photo by Lesley Atkinson)

On the team are a mix of military and civilian employees who conduct inspections, food safety training, water sampling and entomology services

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

Sports drinks: What are you really putting in your body?

Article
6/27/2018
Generally our bodies are comprised of approximately 60 to 70 percent water. We need water for digestion, energy and oxygen transport, and temperature regulation. Senior Airman Johanna Magner, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, drinks water on the flightline in front of a KC-135 Stratotanker. With rising temperatures during the summer months people are encouraged to drink more water to stay hydrated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

In general, sports drinks are typically a calculated blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes and water

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Summer Safety

Five tips to improve men's health

Article
6/12/2018
Take Command of your health

Taking preventive steps and making changes to your lifestyle can improve your health

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health

Breaking down anxiety one fear at a time

Article
6/5/2018
Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Gales participates in ‘battlefield’ acupuncture, also known as ‘ear acupuncture,’ at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as a treatment for anxiety related to PTSD. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin Cunningham)

Generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and anxiety related to PTSD are common disorders. In fact, an estimated 31 percent of U.S. adults experience anxiety at some point in their lives; one marine discusses his journey.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Mental Wellness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Servicemembers demonstrate grace under fire

Article
5/21/2018
The 99th Medical Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada receives the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Ambassador Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, for the life-saving efforts of three of its airmen during the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho (right), president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine presented the award to the 99th MG. (MHS photo)

Five honorees celebrated at the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Awards Ceremony, including the Airmen for their heroic life-saving efforts during the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

Getting tested for STIs is an 'important part of sexual health'

Article
4/26/2018
Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Robert Hall studies a blood sample with a microscope at Naval Branch Health Clinic Kings Bay’s laboratory. Blood tests and pap smears are commonly used ways to diagnose sexually transmitted infections. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel)

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Taking preventive steps, like getting tested and practicing safe sex, can help reduce risk of infection or spreading the infection to others.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Women's Health

Ready, set, focus: Finding calm in a storm through the power of breathing

Article
4/23/2018
Airmen and Soldiers practice breathing and relaxation during their off duty time in a deployed location. Stress can take its toll on your mental and physical health, including your heart health, but there are breathing techniques to buffer yourself from it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

‘Mindful minutes’ and deep breathing help on the job, airmen say

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Health Readiness

Deep vein thrombosis: What you need to know

Article
4/9/2018
Jamia Bailey (center) with her parents, James and Pia, after she underwent a procedure in December at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, to help prevent deep vein thrombosis from recurring. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the body. (Courtesy photo)

Everyone’s potentially at risk, vascular surgeon says

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Preventive Health | Heart Health | Physical Activity
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 25

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.