A cross-sectional study of dermatological conditions in rural and urban Timor-Leste

Australas J Dermatol. 2020 Nov;61(4):e395-e398. doi: 10.1111/ajd.13347. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


Background: There is limited information about the type of skin disease in Timor-Leste. In order to determine the type and magnitude of skin disease in Timor-Leste, we conducted a cross-sectional point prevalence study of 271 patients from rural and urban Timor-Leste. The aim of the study was to estimate the magnitude and burden of dermatological disease.

Methods: Two Australian-trained dermatologists conducted clinics in the city of Dili (urban) and village of Manusae (rural) in Timor-Leste between the period of June and July 2016. They independently recorded all patient presentations and diagnoses.

Results: A total of 271 patients were reviewed over two months, of whom 37% were seen in an urban setting and 63% in a rural setting. Scabies accounted for 96% of all presentations in the rural setting, which was significantly higher than its presentation in the urban setting (8%), P < 0.001. Scabies also accounted for the majority of presentations in the paediatric population aged 10 years or younger. Fungal and bacterial skin and soft tissue infections were both more common in urban areas (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Scabies infection remains the most prevalent dermatological condition encountered in the Timor-Leste rural population and has hopefully been addressed by a recent mass drug administration. It is important to raise awareness of the systemic problems that can arise from untreated skin infections.

Keywords: Ivermectin; dermatology; dermatophyte; mass drug administration; scabies; timor-leste.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult