The use of complementary and alternative medicine among dermatology outpatients in Eastern Turkey

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2014 Feb;33(2):214-21. doi: 10.1177/0960327113494904. Epub 2013 Jul 8.


Introduction: Over the past decade, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become increasingly popular around the world.

Objectives: In this study, we aim to investigate how frequently CAM is used and the types of CAM methods used for dermatological disease in Eastern Turkey.

Materials and methods: We recruited 1610 patients from our clinic for this study. The sociodemographic features and the CAM methods were investigated with a survey.

Results: The most common dermatological disorders included contact dermatitis (21.4%), acne vulgaris (17.5%), fungal infections (10.9%), eczema (6.3%), and warts (5.7%). The ratio of patients using at least one CAM method was 43.7% and that of those using two or more CAM methods was 20.8%. The most commonly used CAM methods were those using henna, cologne, moisturizing cream, prayer, and herbal therapy. Some patients were found to use some interesting and unusual CAM methods, such as putting out a cigarette over the skin on the back for anthrax, applying raw meat for furuncle, using fuel oil and nitric acid for contact dermatitis.

Conclusions: CAM methods are commonly used in our population. CAM methods often cause adverse reactions that may alter diagnostic skin findings and interfere with the efficacy of other medical therapies. Therefore, physicians should ask their patients about the use of CAM methods while collecting patient history. Physicians have a critical role in preventing improper use of CAM. In addition, further investigations into the efficacy, benefits, and risks of CAM methods should be carried out for better insight into those CAM methods.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; dermatology; herbal therapy; side effect; skin disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complementary Therapies / adverse effects
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Young Adult