Nails from Hair Follicles (Really?)

It’s been difficult to miss the articles about the unfortunate young Memphis woman who is said to “grow nails from her hair follicles.”

Needless to say, this has caused quite a sensation for news outlets. Words like “mysterious illness” and “mutation” abound, and while I don’t mean to downplay her illness at all, I think that newspapers are taking this whole thing out of proportion (then again, don’t they always?).

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Cool Medical Students of History: Paul Langerhans

This is a Langerhans cell. Langerhans cells are dendritic cells found in the epidermis (that is, the uppermost layer of the skin) and should not be confused with the Islets of Langerhans found in the Pancreas – and incidentally named after the same person. Langerhans cells are antigen-presenting cells – in other words, they form part of the body’s protection against antigens, and present these to the immune system. Continue reading “Cool Medical Students of History: Paul Langerhans”

Ectoparasite Infections in Art, Literature and History

Because today is a study day (and I would like to study, for once), today is a quick post.

One of the chapters in Dermatology is about ectoparasite infections of the skin. These include crabs (Pthirus Pubis) and fleas (yes, humans can get fleas).

And, just to show how relevant these are, here is your daily dose of fun, in two portions.

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Lost in Translation

Little Brother (still) says the darndest things.

A while ago I posted the following as a status:

Practising Derms surgery on pig. Yummy!

But in my home language, “derms” means “guts”.

So, Little Brother tells The Family that Big Sister is removing pork gut for med school. Nomnomnom indeed!

The funniest thing is that a few hours later, one of my non-medical friends, ten years Little Brother’s senior, made the same mistake.

And people ask me why I love my country’s many languages…

Oink – look at the face!

World Leprosy Day

Stigma should not be seen as residing in an individual with a disease, but it resides in the society that has not found a way to be inclusive. We have a duty to diagnose and treat the stigma.

John Manton, The International Leprosy Association, 2007

Perhaps the first disease I knew of, thanks to my Illustrated Children’s Bible, was Leprosy. I was so afraid of losing my fingers and toes and being ostracized like the Lepers of Biblical times. I knew there was a cure though – knew this long before I learnt that TB medication was first used for leprosy.

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Ode to the Hair Follicle

The picture on the right illustrates vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder causing destruction of the melanocytes of the skin, resulting in hypopigmentation.

We had a patient like this today, only with a very severe form. What she also had was many small round spots of repigmentation, like the few round spots seen in the picture here.

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Dermatology is just like in Grey’s!

Remember that episode in Grey’s Anatomy, where Christina, Meredith and Izzie discover “A Brave New World”, namely the Dermatology Department?

You know the one…

Yes, that one.

For the next two weeks, we get to discover Dermatology in a public South Afican hospital. And yes, it really is an oasis in the desert.

It is amazing. The doctors drag us away from presenting a patient to show us some or other interesting condition. They help is when we struggle with diagnoses. They tell us we can go home when our official time for the day is done.

Continue reading “Dermatology is just like in Grey’s!”