Shea Butter or Accutane?

Where do you get your medical information? What do you do when different kinds of practitioners tell you different, even opposite, things? Whom do you trust? Why?

The Flight Attendant Said My Leg Was Going to Fall Off

Medical advice should make people feel better, but it's easy to make them feel worse, by only paying attention to what you say, not what they hear.

Listening For Golf Balls

Why do patients tell doctors things that don't seem relevant? Who cares if they got hit by a golf ball 30 years ago? Patients do! Doctors should too. But they have to listen.

No, Really, I'm a Good Patient!

You'll never hear a doctor call a patient Good or Bad. Why do patients call themselves one or the other all the time? What do they mean? Why should doctors know about this?

I Thought I Was Damaged Goods!

Why don't many patients treat what they can? Why don't some doctors notice that patients feel hopeless when they shouldn't and guilty when they are aren't?

My Baby’s Birthmark Was My Fault

For doctors, lasers are interesting. Patients who blame themselves for what the lasers will be used for are not.

Look Out Below!

It's a good idea to pay attention. It's not a good idea to pay too much attention. But how much attention is too much?

Get the Red Out

Redness of the skin concerns people, but may lead patients to find causes that weren't involved or stop treaments that were actually working.

Having a Reaction to Reactions

Patients often say they have "reactions" to medications that don't translate into what doctors mean by "allergy."

Help—My Back Itches!

So what if your skin itches a little bit? If it doesn't bother you very much, does it matter? To a lot of patients, the itch matters very much. How come?

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Moisture

Why do most women think they have to moisturize every day? Why do most men have no idea why anybody should have to do that?

Molluscum Contagiosum Isn’t

Many things all the authorities agree on ain't necessarily so.

My Body Doesn't Like Pills

Sometimes patients feel uncomfortable about using a medical treatment, but they might not come right out and say so. Instead, they may develop various symptoms that seem to them to be allergy, or intolerance, or some other indication that they had better stop. Convincing them to continue, or finding an alternative, requires doctors to be alert, flexible, and sensitive.

Making Patients Feel Worse Without Really Trying

Doctors can do the right thing and still make their patients feel worse instead of better. It depends on whether they pay attention to what the information they use and pass on means not just to them but to the people they're talking to.

Hey, You—Get Out of the Water!

Doctors should pay attention not just to what is wrong with the patient's body, but to what other people are saying about it.

People Don’t Always Make a Lot of Sense

Patients don't always do what they should, or what they say they will. When you try to figure out the reason, you may find out that there isn't any.

Adventures in Allergy

When patients say they are "allergic" to something, they do not necessarily mean the same thing that doctors have in mind when they use the word. And vice versa.

Is the Wedding Still On?

There's more to deciding how to treat acne than counting the pimples.

Nipping Buds, Kicking Butts, Safer Than Sorry

It's not always better to be safe than sorry. And not everything has a butt.

Professional Self-Respect

Advisors can be wrong, but they think they know what they're doing. These include painters, plumbers, accountants, and auto mechanics. If you don't think they're right, you'll ask a different expert in the same field. Doctors also think they know what they're doing. But if you aren't so sure, you might well ask your hairdresser's sister-in-law. Why is that, exactly?

Advice From My Hairdresser’s Sister-in-Law

Patients get medical advice from all over the place. Sometimes, it's even from their doctors.

Humpty Dumpty Takes a Biopsy

Doctors need to be careful to know what the words they use every day mean to the patients they are talking to. Even simple-sounding words like "biopsy" can produce significant misunderstandings between patient and doctor.

What Everybody Knows....

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Mark Twain (or maybe somebody else)

The Itch That Ate Brooklyn

Besides bothering people, itch means many things. Itch can be embarrassing when other people see you scratch. Itch can be frightening if you worry something bad is happening. It usually isn't.

This Never Happened Before!

Often, what bothers patients about medical problems are not the symptoms but the worry that comes from being sure that this never happened before–even though, often, it has.

Toenails As Big As Potatoes

Disease is more than being ill. It's part of the story of life.

Is It Cancer Yet?

When it's hard to take "Yes" for an answer.

STD's Without Sex

Mollusca contagiosa have nothing to do with mollusks--and are not necessarily contagious.

OK, Rub It In!

What doctors should know about what gets in the way of patients' using what they prescribe.

A Tale of Three Patients

How a doctor explains a condition and treats it should depend on what the patient thinks.