The scariest things on dermatologists

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


“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