Thursday, April 14, 2011

You've got skin problems, and eHow will fix them

Like everyone, when things go wrong in your life, my first thought is to turn to to offer clarity in this mixed up world. Today, let’s learn what eHow suggests when you have discovered a skin thingy and need medical attention.

First off, you should know that eHow gives you the option of Tweeting this knowledge so you can keep your friends in the loop on your skin dramaz. Or you can send it via a Facebook message, as the most public and passive-aggressive method of letting Christy we can all see her funky forehead bumps.

The highlights: eHow teaches us what a dermatologist is, just in case you’ve always had a hankering to see one without being quite clear on what it is. For the purposes of this example, the doctor will be a man, because female doctors are called nurses. (Zing.)

EHow rates this as Difficulty: Moderate. But with a little forethought and elbow grease we can dial that difficulty level to simple and make you the pimp of pimples.


1. Ask the doctor’s office staff about his credentials before making an appointment. Schedule an exam only if the doctor is certified by the American Board of Dermatology.

This is a great first step! Much like you’d never go to a restaurant without demanding to hear about the chef/Sandwich Artist’s childhood, don’t let that smug Dr. Zizmor uses his Rainbow of Skittle Vomit™ to his dig around your inflamed pores before first berating Tammi the receptionist for not being able to send a picture of the good doctor posing with his transcript and a newspaper with the date. If she can’t fax over the doctor’s med school transcripts, you have no choice but to drive over there yourself until she’s located his yearbooks and you’ve independently verified he was German Club president and heard a few heart-warming anecdotes about him calling spaghetti “pasketti”.

Remember: Certificates of live birth and diplomas from Arizona State don’t count.

2. Learn about your condition before meeting the doctor so you can ask informed questions and thoroughly discuss treatment options. If you have been treating your condition at home, write down the names of products used in the past along with their effect on your health.

I’m not going to lie, this is going to require you to Google Image some nasty things. You’re probably avoiding your own reflection by the time your condition has gotten doctor-worthy (thanks a lot, Obamacare!), so you may want to enlist the help of the next person who blanches at the sight of you.

This can be accomplished in several simple sub-steps. You’re minding your own pimple/rash/cyst business when an unsuspecting stranger’s monocle drops. Just remember the acronym ARG!

2a. Ask: “Would you say my face looks offensive in a small red bump way or more or a puss-filled mass way?”
2b. Refuse: to stop using the salad bar tongs to scratch.
2c. Google: Once you’ve been kicked out of the Ponderosa (fascists!) rush home and fire up the Googles.

Gather up all the infomercial skin products you’ve purchased, along with the skimask you generally wear in public these days.

3. Inquire about the doctor’s level of experience with your condition. If he lacks specialized knowledge in the necessary area, ask him to make a referral. If your dermatologist biopsies a mole and diagnosis you with skin cancer, he may refer you to an oncologist for further treatment.

We’re back with Tammi. March in that office like a boss, slam your fists down and demand answers. There’s no time for niceties! You have a skin thing, dammit! Tammi will be flattered about your attention to detail. (Note: See if Tammi is single.) Once Dr. NotGoodEnough moseys in, he’ll likewise be excited to hear you’ve made an appointment to determine if he’s worthy to look at your infection.

4. Talk to your dermatologist about prescription medication. If he prescribes a prescription cream to treat acne, for example, ask about side effects. Some oral medications for severe acne can cause dizziness or sensitivity to the sun, so it’s important to discuss your lifestyle with your doctor to determine what type of treatment is best for you.

Once the doctor has answered your riddles three and been allowed to gaze upon your blemishes, you’re going to want to get naked. Shit’s about to get real, people. Tell him all about your love of “Estty Lauder” cold cream you get in Chinatown and your penchant for scratching with salad buffet tongs. Brag about your year-round base tan and investment in the Sun Suite Tanning franchise in the strip mall. Try to get him to invest, painting it as the potential for more business.

Once it’s been determined what the hell your problem is (skin version) and the doctor has given you a prescription, you’re going to want to second-guess everything he says. Practice a disappointed, “Hmmmm, I don’t know about that. Will it make me faint if I’m exposed to sunlight?” When he – arrogantly! – dismisses your concern and makes a suspicious note on your chart, look out the window, shout out “HEAVEN FORFADE!” and swoon to the floor.

5. Ask about preparation, recovery and success rate if your condition requires surgical intervention. The doctor should inform you of all possible complications and risks involved. Dermatologists often perform small procedures in the office using local anesthetic.

Once you’ve come to, ask the doctor to give it to you straight. You know your odds: You have a skin thingy, for God’s sake. You’re wasting precious time! You’re probably not getting out without amputation. Demand surgery. Preemptively contact your parish priest, rabbi, imam (hedge your bets), next of kin and attorney. Yell, “Tell the world my story!” and change your will to note you’d like Dana Delaney to play you in the Lifetime movie. Grab the mask and knock yourself out.

6. Watch closely if your dermatologist performs a skin exam. If you have moles that have changed size or shape, the doctor may remove them in her office. She may ask you to watch particular areas of skin, so discuss with her how to spot suspicious moles.

Get the dried ice and carrot peeler and go to town. Learn too late what a freckle is. Congratulations, you don’t have any left.

7. Look at before and after pictures for your procedure. Keep in mind that everybody reacts differently to treatment and that your outcome may not resemble those in the doctor’s portfolio. Speak with the doctor about how he thinks your results will compare to those in the photos.

Get vain! It’s now safe to look in the mirror again! Force strangers to admire your variety of exciting new scars and compare them to your baby photos, which you’ll take to carrying around. Update your Facebook status with pictures. Hold your head up high and go win your job back at Ponderosa. Then file a motion to sue the doctor.

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