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Dermatology Discontent

October 25, 2011

Thanks to my beloved friend, Kristina, and her husband, Chris, I finally sought out a dermatologist and got my skin checked last month for skin cancer. If you’re unaware of why this matter is so close to my heart, please read this post from August. And check out the Chris Weber Crew website, and read Chris’ story.

So I’m cancer free and and didn’t get too bad a verbal lashing from the doctor last month, and was able to bring up some other issues I’ve been having. Specifically, the horrendous acne I’ve managed to develop at 37 years old, and the crusty/itchy/flaky/nasty crap on my scalp I’ve been battling, in various stages, for most of my life.

What I'm looking like today. Baseball cap to hide the flaky scalp and shadows from said ballcap to hide the zits. (The horn growing out of the side of my nose isn't even noticeable, thank you very much, shadows!)

When Dr. Sanchez checked my skin last month, she gave me a prescription for my acne and had me come back in this morning to check out my scalp and see how the face was going. While it’s improved, I am still having some zit issues (like this horn growing out of the side of my nose), so now I have a topical antibiotic waiting for me at Walgreens. So then onto my scalp, and I quickly realized why I love and hate doctors at the same time.

You see, I’m a mixed kind of girl when it comes to medicine and doctors. I have a bit of granola flowing through my veins. Tell me what’s wrong, let’s try to fix it and then….here’s where I tend to stump the standard Western medicine doctor….let’s figure out how to prevent said issues. It doesn’t help that I live in St. Louis, one of the most Western-medicine-ized metro areas in the country. There’s two major medicial schools in town, and they don’t really like out-of-the-box solutions to medical issues. Doc’s around here are pretty much swear by the motto “There’s a prescription for that!”

So back to Dr. Sanchez. Lovely woman, really. No disrespect. But she diagnosed me with Seborreah on the scalp, and gave me a shampoo recommendation, plus wrote me a prescription for an after-shower topical solution. And then I stumped her….

Me: So, what else can I do here? Is there anything I can do internally – like diet changes or supplements – that can prevent this?

Dr. S. (looking confused): Um, no we just treat this topically, it’s very standard.

Me: I understand that, I’m just wondering what changes I may be able to make so that I don’t need all this topical treatment.

Dr. S. (thoroughly lost): Well, we don’t want to do any harsher treatment than this, this is actually very mild.

Me: No, I’m not wanting more treatment, I’m wanting to prevent it in the first place. You know, once we get this under control, what can I do, internally, to make it not come back.

Dr. S. (clearly annoyed): There’s no prevention, we don’t know why you get this, some people have it and some don’t, it’s hormones and genes. We treat it topically.

Me (exhibiting about as much patience as I can muster): What I’m asking is is there anything I can do, not a topical medicine, that would prevent this, like avoid certain foods, add certain foods, take a specific supplement…

Dr. S. (hating me at this point): No, there’s no prevention, we treat it topically. I know, I know, we want to control everything, but we can’t always do that.

Me (trying to control myself from punching her in the face): I don’t want to control it. I want to prevent it in the first place. So, anyway, I get it, nevermind.

Dr. S. (completely dismissing me): So, no, we treat this topically, this is very normal, a lot of people have it, it’s no big deal.

So I guess we agreed to disagree. I try to remember that most doctors in my area don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I bring up the word “Prevention,” but I was struggling to conceal my annoyance with the very intelligent Dr. Sanchez this morning. I know she’s a top-notch dermatologist, and if anyone has skin cancer issues or questions, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her. But she completely and totally wasn’t understanding what I was asking her…and she didn’t want to.

And so off to the Internet I go. I’ll do my monkey dance for the Doctor and get this under control her way. But then I guess I’ll figure out a preventative treatment going forward, and unfortunately, without the help of a knowledgeable doctor. This is why I really prefer DOs over MDs, they tend to take a whole-body approach to medicine. Notice I said “tend to.” They’ll write ya that prescription in two seconds flat, but when I ask about prevention, and what else can I do outside of medicine, they suddenly remember that they went to a school that taught those things as well. Unfortunatley, I have yet to find a dermatologist that’s also a DO in my area.

OK, so sorry I bored you with my skin issues today, this just really upset for some irrational reason. I think it’s that feeling that you have a real issue and you’re being dismissed by the one person you were hoping would help. Nothing about that makes you feel good.

Do you have any skin issues? Or am I just really lucky? My mom says I had cradle cap as a baby, and I can remember throughout my life flare-ups in my scalp, especially during the winter months. Now it seems I have this year round, it’s just worse in winter. It’s hard to wear black….

When was the last time you felt “dismissed?” Honestly, this is my biggest complaint with my husband. And he knows it. He tends to approach things with the attitude of if it’s not important to him, then it’s simply not important. As opposed to recognizing that others may find said topic important. The “I’m feeling dismissed!” argument is probably the main argument between us! Of course, he’d really like me to learn to put things away and in their place at all times. So we all have issues, now don’t we?

Have you had your skin checked by a dermatologist? It’s easy and not scary, I swear. It may even save your life.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2011 2:14 pm

    I do hope you find a natural solution. It’s my experience that the people who appear healthiest seem to be eating a wonderful green leafy diet… I try… but it’s hard to maintain:)

    • October 26, 2011 11:31 am

      Unfortunately, it’s more than just a “add a few more veggies” to the diet kind of issue. I’ve tried many things over the years, but now I have an official diagnosis, so that helps. I’ll be doing lots of research over the next few days!

  2. Sarah permalink
    October 25, 2011 5:11 pm

    I feel your pain on both things. Both of my parents have/had dandruff and I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I own nothing black. I have talked to my aunt about it (she’s a dermatology nurse) and she said that the best solution she has seen is putting pure peanut oil on your scalp. Totally messy and apparently also expensive. I have never tried it. I have yet to find any OTC shampoos that help. I, too, have always wondered if it could be something I’m eating (or not eating) that is contributing to this.
    I never had acne issues until last year when I went off of birth control pills after being on them for 3 years. Since then it has been a serious case of blackheads and pizza face. I keep referring to it as “the second coming of puberty,” but puberty wasn’t even this bad!!
    So… just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone out there.
    If you happen to hit upon anything that helps with either issue let me know… and I’ll do the same.

    • October 26, 2011 11:32 am

      Sarah, so sorry to hear that you suffer from this as well! It’s such a bummer (Understatement of the Year.)

      After I do a bit more reading on it, I’ll put a post together with exactly what the Dermatologist told me to do, plus what else I learn. I’ve already figured out that Seborrhea is a yeast-related issue, so anti-yeast diets and supplements are a good place to start.

  3. October 25, 2011 6:09 pm

    I know how you feel about the doctor dismissing you. It is very common. You might look up some holistic health site for info. Could also give Donna a call. She may have some suggestions. Love you, Mom

    • October 26, 2011 11:33 am

      I was already on my way to the Holistic Health side!

  4. November 14, 2011 3:41 pm

    Have you ever tried eliminating high fructose corn syrup and processed cane sugar? It worked for me post 2nd baby – for really, really bad zits. I do indulge in a cookie or soda once in a while (life is short) but usually get one or two pimples afterwards. The evaporated cane from Trader Joes is expensive, but I can handle it in my tea without getting zits. Just sayin.


  1. How I Quit Sugar, and Lost 17 Pounds in 7 Weeks « FitMommas

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