Dermatologists share scariest things they've seen on the job
As women, we put our skin through a lot. Between the shaving, plucking, waxing, picking, popping, and (gah) burning, it’s amazing we have any skin left. Luckily, our trusty dermatologists have been there for us every step of the way—which, naturally, makes us wonder about the other skin bloopers they’ve been asked to help with throughout their careers.
Here, seven dermatologists share a highlight reel of the crazy (and cringe-worthy) consults they’ll never forget:
“An elderly woman came into the office complaining about a changing mole on her chest over the past day that she needed to get checked out. When I initially looked at it, it appeared to be a black, crusted bump, but when I got close and touched it, it started to move! It wasn’t a keratosis at all, but rather an engorged tick that was still alive, squirming around, legs and all. I removed the tick, sent it to the lab, and gave her medicine to make sure she didn’t develop Lyme disease.” —Joshua Zeichner, M.D., New York City-based board-certified dermatologist
“I had a patient come in with orange skin (as in, oompa-loompa orange). It turned out that she was on a juicing program that involved consuming a lot of carrots, which caused a condition called carotenemia. Once she cut back on the carrot juice, her skin color went back to normal.” —Anonymous
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“A patient came to the clinic one day and had decided to freeze off all his own spots. We use liquid nitrogen—he decided to use freon, which is used as a refrigerant. He sprayed it on the various spots on his arms and legs, and was covered in burns. I had to treat him for cold burns with prescription burn cream and special bandages.” —Debra Jaliman, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules
“I had a young college student come in who was home from spring break in Mexico. She had fallen asleep on the beach after a night of partying, causing her to have the worst sunburn I’ve ever seen in my career. As we were talking during her visit, two huge sunburn blisters popped on her face, causing the fluid inside them to start dripping down her face and neck. Almost a decade later, we still talk about that visit during her yearly skin-cancer screenings.” —Arash Akhavan, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at The Dermatology & Laser Group in New York
“A patient got filler at a ‘bargain’ storefront clinic and had awful lumps in her face—three weeks before her daughter’s bat mitzvah.” —Neal Schultz, M.D., New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz
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“A patient showed up in my office with a bright red, swollen face. She had gone online to buy acid and had given herself a facial peel. It was a peel that’s commonly used in dermatology, but unfortunately, there are counterfeit products on the market. She required topical creams and steroids by mouth to take down the swelling.” —Debra Jaliman, M.D.
“A man came in complaining that his feet were itchy, and when he took off his socks, I almost fell over from the smell. (It was like bad breath, rotting flesh, and a compost heap all rolled into one odor.) He had one of the worst toe web infections I’d ever seen in my career, and it turned out to be three separate infections, all layered on top of each other.” —Anonymous
“I once had an impeccably dressed, very high-strung young lawyer come into the office for weeks of brown discoloration on her back. She complained that she’d been to the ‘best dermatologist’ in the city, who had given her a cream that hadn’t solved her issue. After taking a look at her back, I wet some gauze in water and rubbed her back with it, removing what was clearly just dirt and dead skin cells that had built up from a lack of proper washing of the area. Luckily, she had a great sense of humor about the whole thing!” —Arash Akhavan, M.D.
“After the Instagram account ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’ became a hit, patients started coming in and asking if they could watch their own pimples get popped or their cysts removed. One patient in particular had a growing cyst on her cheek—within two weeks, it had completely doubled in size from a marble to a golf ball. I numbed the cyst and would normally block the punctum with gauze (the spot where it opens to the surface) so it doesn’t squirt out, but since the patient requested to watch, I didn’t. The white, cheesy, cyst material gushed out and literally shot across the room—I’ve never seen anything like it! Some of it even hit a medical assistant in the face.” —Nazanin Saedi, M.D., director of Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia
“I’ve had patients come in who use electric brushes for their face and brush away so much healthy epidermis that they bleed, get infections, or end up scarred.” —Neal Schultz, M.D.
This article originally appeared on WomensHealthMag.com.