Discipline of Dermatology

Department of Dermatology Research Projects

The Department of Dermatology has several ongoing research projects. Some of the areas of interest are:

  • The spectrum of skin diseases in a black population in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
  • Analysis of skin-lightening creams used in Durban, South Africa.
  • An investigation of the heavy metal content of commonly used skin-lightening creams
  • An experimental study to investigate the pH of different soaps and cleansers recommended for atopic and sensitive skins in South Africa.
  • Skin lightening practices: an epidemiological study amongst South African women of African and Indian ancestry.
  • Women’s perceptions of the benefits and risks of skin lightening creams in two South African communities.
  • A survey of skin cancer awareness, sunscreen use and risk-appropriate behaviour among South Africans indicates a substantial knowledge deficit and extensive failure to adopt prudent measures to reduce the risk of skin cancer and detect disease at an early stage.
  • Chemical analysis and in vitro UV-protection characteristics of clays traditionally used for sun protection in South Africa.
  • Non-toxic melanin production inhibitors from Garcinia livingstone (Clusiaceae).
  • Mechanism of melanin inhibition of Morelloflavone- 7?- sulphate and Sargaol extracts from Garcinia livingstonei (Clusiaceae): Experimental Study; Homology Modelling; Molecular Docking and Molecular Dynamics Simulations
  • Autosomal dominant inheritance of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia in black South Africans.
  • Common gene expression patterns in central centrifugal alopecia (CCCA) patients.
  • Frontal fibrosing alopecia and lichen planus pigmentosus: is there a link?
  • Frontal fibrosing alopecia: a clinical review of 20 black patients from South Africa.
  • Quality of life in South Africans with alopecia.
  • Evaluation of KSHV viral loads in saliva of patients with HIV Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Serological analysis, Viral load and genotyping of KSHV in patients with HIV
  • Evaluating barriers to Early presentation and Diagnosis of KS
  • Heat Shock Proteins in Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Vitamin D and HIV Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Immune Reconstitution Syndrome
  • Developing a Teledermatology Service in KZN
  • Complementary and Alternate Therapy in Atopic Dermatitis
  • Analysis of Infiltrates in Drug Reactions in HIV
  •  Developing Evidence Based Guidelines for HIV Dermatoses
  • HTLV-1 associated Infective Dermatisis
  • Retrospective study:  The use of systemic steroids in Stevens johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis.
  • Prospective study:  the role of dexamethasone in HIV positive patients with Stevens johnson / toxic epidermal necrolysis
  • Setting up/Implementing teledermatology service in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Recalcitrant chromomycosis
  • Setting up/Implementing a dermatology nursing program in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Pemphigus vulgaris in KwaZulu-Natal:  A pharmaco-economic evaluation
  • An evaluation of derm surgery services in public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal:  background to implementing a MOHS surgery service
  • Epidermolysis bullosa in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Epidermo-dysplasia verruciformis in HIV


Researcher: Dr Ncoza Dlova

Designation: Dermatology HOD

Study: Ethnic Skin and Hair Disorders in KwaZulu-Natal: A Study of the Spectrum of Ethnic Skin and Hair Disorders, and the Composition and Use of Skin-Lightening Preparations, Traditional Cosmetics and Sunscreen

Summary: The study examines skin conditions common in Black patients and highlights the similarities to and differences from other skin conditions elsewhere in the world. The work emphasises the importance of understanding Black skin and hair in recommending appropriate treatment. The study revealed that acne, eczemas, pigmentation disorders, infections and hair disorders are, in that order, the five most common skin disorders in black patients in Kwazulu-Natal.

Study: HIV infection predisposes skin to toxic epidermal necrolysis via depletion of skin-directed CD4+ T cells

Summary: A greater incidence of adverse cutaneous drug eruptions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), occurs among HIV-infected patients.

Objective: We sought to determine if immunophenotypical differences exist in the inflammatory infiltrates of TEN lesions from HIV-infected individuals versus noninfected individuals.

Methods: The inflammatory infiltrates in 12 cases of TEN from HIV-positive patients were characterized and compared with the infiltrates present in 12 cases of TEN from HIV-negative patients.

Results: TEN infiltrates consisted of CD3, CD4, and CD8 immunoreactive T lymphocytes in both the dermis and epidermis. HIV infection was associated with an 8-fold increase in the ratio of CD8+ to CD4+ T cells infiltrating the dermis (P = .006) and a decrease in the number of dermal CD4+ cells (P = .044). There was also a significant decrease in the ratio of CD25+ to CD4+ cells in the epidermis of HIV-infected skin (P = .011).

Limitations: This study is limited by small sample sizes.

Conclusion: A decrease in the number of skin-directed CD4+ cells and an increase in the ratio of CD8+ to CD4+ cells exists in TEN lesions among HIV-infected individuals and likely contribute to an increased risk of developing drug reactions because of the loss of skin-protective CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.