Jungle Rot Disease

by Sam Malone

Tropical ulcer, Aden ulcer, Malabar ulcer, or tropical phagedena are the other names for jungle rot disease. It is essentially a lesion that occurs on the skin and can be caused by many different microorganisms such as mycobacteria. Jungle rot disease is common in tropical climes, and is often a result of continuous exposure of the feet and arms to damp, unsanitary conditions. Although the condition can affect any exposed part of the body, it is more common in the lower limbs. If neglected, it can extend through the muscles and tendons, and even reach the bones. The lesions can recur on the old abrasions or sores, which could have just begun as a mere scratch.


Tropical ulcers often occur below the knee, usually the ankle. They are often triggered due to minor trauma or infections; people with poor nutrition are at higher risk and that is why is often called a poor man’s disease. The ulcers that are formed can become chronic and can be extremely painful. The abrasions or lesions often begin as inflammatory papules and progress to become vesicles, eventually rupturing to form an ulcer. The condition raises the risk of osteitis, deep tissue invasion, and amputation.

As mentioned, there is no one causative organism for tropical ulcers; most often, it is due to infection of bacillus fusiformis, anaerobes, or spirochaetes. The ulcer is also susceptible to secondary infections of other organisms such as staphylococci and streptococci.


The treatment for jungle rot disease can include penicillin, which is sufficient in the early stages. In the later stage, the disease responds to broad spectrum antibiotics. It requires non-adherent dressings and increased intake of nutrition and vitamin; skin grafting is helpful in some cases. Large ulcers may require debridement under anesthesia, and in very extreme cases, the condition requires amputation.

The best way to keep the condition at bay and to prevent trauma is to wear appropriate footwear. Good nutritious food and good health are essential factors to prevent jungle rot disease.

It is also imperative to clean and treat the ulcers as soon as they appear. The lesions or sores can be cleaned with a vinegar-mouthwash soak. Turmeric is also an effective antiseptic and antibacterial antidote that can help in healing the condition. Turmeric can be included in regular food or added in dishes that require spice. Turmeric powder can be applied on the ulcers directly as well. Vitamin E is also good for overall skin health. Witch hazel can also be applied on the ulcers, but you need to check to see if it causes any irritation.
Consult a doctor before attempting home remedies as a sole solution. 
Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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