Life Learnings,  Solving Skin Issues

They thought I had skin cancer when I actually had dermatitis…

A dermatologist thought I had skin cancer but I actually had seborrheic dermatitis.

How does a dermatologist confuse skin cancer and dermatitis? I have no idea…This experience still makes me angry when I think about it. I am not a dermatologist but I would think a professional would at least ask a couple more questions before making it seem like life or death and taking a chunk out of the back of my head. It went like this…

Me: “I have Crohn’s Disease and since my diagnosis I have been having hair loss.”

Dermatologist: “Let me take a look.” She does a pull test and ends up with a couple strands of hair in her hand then looks at the back of my head and says, “I think you may have skin cancer and we need to take a biopsy right now.”

Me: “What!? I have an allergy to sunscreen so I stay out of the sun for the most part.”

Dermatologist: “I strongly recommend we do the test today.” 

Me: While thinking, “This makes no sense” says, “Okay.”

She proceeded to cut a chunk of skin out of the back of my head. To make matters worse, while she was at it, she decided it would be a good idea to remove a couple hair follicles to test for early baldness. Thinking she was the professional and knew better than I did, I went along with it and left in pain and worry. 

That day I learned an important lesson. Doctors offer very valuable education, insight and knowledge but YOU need to sit in the drivers seat of your health. For me, this means running each recommendation I get through my own brain filter. Does this make sense given what I know about my body? Of course, this is not appropriate in acute medical situations where the doctor protocol and immediate action is best but for those of us with chronic illness we end up spending a lot of time at the doctor with a lot of different specialists who for the most part, don’t look at an issue from a holistic system perspective.

I knew that dermatologist was wrong and wasn’t offering responsible care. I vowed that day, when something doesn’t feel right, I will ask more questions and get more information before allowing a doctor to move forward. 

Turns out, I didn’t have skin cancer and I don’t have early baldness, I have Seborrheic Dermatitis. A very common skin condition (especially for those with autoimmune diseases) that often affects the scalp and causes itchiness. 

I left never to return to that office with a chunk of my scalp gone, a small bald spot which will never grow back, an itchy scalp and the hair loss problem continued. But what I gained, is the confidence that I know more about what my body needs then I ever realized. 

Next mission… How do I help my itchy scalp and hair loss on my terms?

With love,

Annelise Bretthauer

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