Just the facts ma’am….

just-the-facts-ma'am

Sgt Joe Friday (Jack Webb)

I was recently asked by a new acquaintance if I had been diagnosed with ADHD. My initial response was surprise. Me? Attention problem? As someone who has sat in the same spot for hours on end reading textbooks cover to cover, studying for medical boards and looking at hundreds of slides (one of my favorite parts of dermatology and why I became a dermatopathologist) without getting up to eat, drink or use the loo (that just sounds better than “potty” don’t you think?), it hadn’t occurred to me that I might have a problem staying focused.  I know I have my idiosyncrasies and nuances, and that certain” je ne sais quoi” that I like to think of as part of my charm (aka: a New Yorker without a filter=inappropriate and sometimes vulgar to which I credit  my father: love you Dad ), but I didn’t think attention or focus was a problem. But as I thought about her comment some more, I came to the realization that my issue is not an inability to stay focused when tasked, it’s more that I am perpetually interested in lots of things and often more interested in something other than what I am doing at that moment. Which brings me to the whole point of this post.

I had originally intended to post topics that only had “dermatology” titles: topics relating to the health of your skin, how to manage issues with your skin, and how to protect it, as my passion is educating people about skin cancer and melanoma, but somehow I keep getting side-tracked. Like I said, I am interested in a lot of things, especially eating. Learning new ways to cook (or just learning to cook for that matter) has opened a whole new world for me and I am having fun experimenting and I want to share that with you.

You see, your skin is a window to the overall health of your body. There are many systemic diseases which manifest characteristic skin findings. Therefore, examination of the skin can be key to making diagnoses as well as prompting a more extensive evaluation to pursue the possibility of internal organ involvement. Though not common, skin findings can be the first clue to metastasis of internal malignancy leading to diagnosis, work-up and subsequent management.

So what I am getting at is that what you eat can have a big impact on your skin. For example, those of you with Celiac disease may have experience with dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). DH is a chronic, intensely itchy, blistering skin manifestation of gluten-sensitive enteropathy (Celiac disease) which affects 15 to 25 percent of people with the disease and is found mainly in adults (more common in men and people of northern European descent). A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for the underlying disease, though some people may require temporary use of oral medication in order to get relief from their skin symptoms as they transition their diets.

So even though my plan was just to stick to the “derm facts”, there are so many facets of our lives that are intimately linked to the health of our skin: food, fitness, travel (bed bugs, myasis and leishmaniasis, oh my) that you may find my attention wandering in different directions. Feel free to reign me in if you have questions, or jump on board and enjoy the ride it should be interesting!

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2 thoughts on “Just the facts ma’am….

  1. The ability to ‘hyper-focus’ is one form of ADD according to Daniel Amen, M.D. Of course I know this because I have the ability to do the same – spend days intensely studying one subject and remember details of said-subject with such clarity but forget the address of my first purchased home. It is what allows me to dive into a topic and spend 2 years studying it until I am done and then on to the next. However, I think of my ability to ‘hyper-focus’ as a talent not a problem that needs fixing. I hope the woman who asked you the question thought the same. Go Keira!

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