Dealing With Skin Troubles At JSMK

4 July, 2016
Karen State, Burma

We seem to be spending a great deal of effort at JSMK dealing with problems of the skin. Many of our patients come with abscesses requiring drainage of the pus (see the picture below). These can be just under the skin, or deep in the muscle. Others come to us with wounds that won’t heal: a combination of infection, poor hygiene, and poor nutrition. We have found ways to clean and dress wounds and improve the nutrition of our patients so that their wounds heal well.  Students and staff are taught methods of care using simple means including the physical removal of biofilm (the gunk in chronic wounds), how to use jungle honey and Dakin’s solution (a very dilute mixture of bleach and clean water). In addition they learn how to treat wound infections and achieve healing. We are using physical therapy to treat the stiffness that often comes with these painful conditions.

Dr. Andrea and Therah Toh + the team drain a deep abscess in the thigh using Ketamine for anesthesia and the Ultrasound for guidance. They are in our new operating room and Laboratory which reached completion and was utilized heavily this last month. 

So often, our patients are able to return home with resolution of their infections and wounds. Isn’t it interesting that the keys to their improvement seem to be such simple things:

  • good food,
  • removal of pus and the recovery of cleanliness,
  • honey and water and a tiny bit of bleach,
  • good dressings and movement of stiff joints.

That and the skills we have gained and are teaching. A big thank you to Dr. Orv who has had a great influence from afar in helping us improve the quality of our wound care. And thanks to Barry and Al who led many others in the work to complete our new Operating Lab and Lab.

Saw Lah Kyaw scrambles up the tower to adjust settings on our WiFi, keeping us in contact with the world at large.

If you wish to contribute to medical supplies, or rice for staff and patients, or offer help of any sort, we would happily talk to you about the current need. John & Christa Shaw, email: