Picking, popping, peeling — these are all things that seem to have massive appeal on the weird side of YouTube. Now British consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Craythorne is taking this curiosity about the strange things that skin does and turning it into a science lesson in her new reality show ‘Bad Skin Clinic’.
On the show that currently airs in the UAE on TLC, Craythorne addresses serious skin issues from both a medical and human perspective, shedding light on conditions that most people might not know much about such as lipomas, rosacea and keloids.
Craythorne, who works for the NHS and has her own practice, tells Gulf News tabloid! that she’d never imagined she would be the star of her own show.
“The British Association of Dermatologists had sent an email to me, and I got in contact with the production company ... So, they did a Skype call,” she said over the phone. “And then the next day they said we love it, can we do a pilot show? So, they did a pilot show. And then, lo and behold, we’ve done a series. So, it all happened in a very thrilling way ... it’s very, very, very unexpected.”
Craythorne tells us more about the show, her thoughts on the online skincare community and her personal pet peeves.
How do you feel being a TV star now? I know it might be quite unusual.
It’s very, very strange. My sister, who looks very like me, was actually stopped in the street while she was going to pay for the petrol in her car and the guys said, ‘Are you Dr Emma from ‘The Bad Skin Clinic’?’ And she said, that’s my sister. So, someone has prodded her, but nobody has bothered me yet, other than my kids, who are very excited.
What can general viewers and other skin care enthusiasts look forward to on the show and what is the general format of the show like?
Each episode — there are eight episodes altogether — follows the story of four patients. One of them has a fairly long-standing chronic skin condition that has happened for many years and it had a big impact on their quality of life, and we tried to do something to make things better for them. And then two of them, or sometimes three, are the procedural cases of dermatology. Some have got a big, massive lump on the back of their back or their arm. And we do the incising with a scalpel, dissecting around of it, and squeezing it out. So, for those people who like to watch things being taken out of bodies, then it’s definitely the show for them. For other people who like to follow the journey and follow the story of actual patients, which is probably the most important thing in dermatology, it’s really, really well done.
What are some misconceptions people have about those with skin disorders?
Sometimes some people think certain skin disorders are infectious. So, some people who have bad acne or bad psoriasis or even bad eczema have had encounters with members of the public who won’t sit beside them on a bus or sit beside them at work because they falsely believe that they going to catch something from their skin disease.
One of the other misconceptions is that ... it’s not about curing [the disorder, but] waving a magic wand and things are better. [The reality is] it’s a lot about managing it and it’s a lot about using the right treatment on the skin every single day because, for the most part, most people who by the time they got to adulthood with eczema will probably still continue to have eczema. So it’s about how to look after that every day so it doesn’t get bad but it stays as good as it can possibly be. And so, those are the kind of things that are looked at within the programme itself.
There’s a lot of information online now about general skincare and that goes along with a lot of misinformation. What are some things that people should not take into their own hands when it comes to skincare?
You’ve hit the nail on the head for what is the problem with the internet. I mean it’s great that we have access now to so much — we are able to share information so well. But the worrying thing is is that a lot of people will follow bloggers or vloggers who are incentivised by money, or incentivised to be shocking and just get more followers and actually, you know, don’t have any training in the skin at all.
Things that people should definitely not do; well, my number one thing to definitely not do ... [there are] these products that you can buy online to get rid of moles. Some people buy pens and they use the pens to burn moles on their arm.
Oh, my gosh.
Yeah, exactly. Another thing [is] that you can get a product called black salve which some people would buy to put on their skin cancers to try and treat them themselves at home. And, unfortunately, it’s got amazing Facebook reviews and Instagram followers, but it actually causes much more harm and it doesn’t get rid of the skin cancer. So, I’ve had three young patients die from melanoma because they used this stuff because they followed this advice online.
Speaking of skin cancer, in the Middle East, there is so much sun and still the concept of using sunscreen every day is not well received. What would you say to that?
The thing is there’s a couple of different reasons of why we would use sunscreen. So, one of the reasons to use sunscreen is typically to prevent skin cancer. But the other reason to use sun creams is because it blocks out those radiation rays that cause ageing of the skin, cause pigmentation within the skin, and cause those burst, broken blood vessels on the surface of the skin. Even if you weren’t using your sunscreen to try and reduce your risk of skin cancer, for patients who have old bits of brown pigmentation and, you know, the little red spots or wrinkles, then just use your sunscreen for that because you’re going to get so much more sun exposure obviously being in Dubai than you would do in the UK. So, definitely, I would suggest wearing sunscreen.
Then when you come back to the idea of skin cancers, now the skin cancers are rising incredibly high. So, there’s been 45 per cent increase [in the UK] in the last decade.
Could you give our readers some general tips for healthy skin?
Make sure you’re eating and drinking well. So, that means drinking enough water ... It does have a big impact on the skin and how the skin looks and feels. Secondly, is to make sure that you’re getting good healthy fats in the body. Simple fats like you would get from things like plant-related fats or fish-related fats, all of those have been shown to be proven to help the skin be good. The next thing really is to — if you’re somebody who smokes — that you should stop smoking because that does have a negative impact on the skin. It’s more likely to give you blackheads, and it’s more likely if you injure your skin that it won’t heal so well.
And then it comes to the things that you put on your skin. And the top things for putting on your skin are making sure your skin is cleansed well. That doesn’t mean scrubbing the skin hard. It means using the right type of cleanser for your skin. After that, you just need a moisturiser. And again, it’s a moisturiser, it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. And then lastly, as Baz Luhrmann said, wear sunscreen because that will [protect] the skin from radiation and it also stops the skin from getting pigmentation and wrinkles.
Then the next things you can then think about is putting on retinoid at night time, vitamin C oil in the morning. And these things have evidence behind them. And the next thing is it needs to be put on. I always say to my patients just spend one minute on your skin every day. Just one minute on your skin. And you just need to put the right stuff on every day and that makes the difference.
What are your skincare pet peeves that you see people doing?
I really don’t like it whenever people come in and are using so many different products on their skin, like hundreds and hundreds of products. I have some people who come in and they have a 20-step routine of what they do in the morning and then another 20-step routine of what they do at night time. And then they wonder why they have got a dermatitis on their skin because they’ve been putting so many chemicals on their skin. So, it’s about keeping things really simple.
The other thing that I suppose annoys me is when people come in and say, ‘But, honestly, I put my sunscreen on. I never sit in the sun.’ And they come in, and their skin is so brown and tanned and they have sunblock all over their body, and they say, ‘But I never go in the sun’ and it’s like you clearly do. I find that funny.
Don’t miss it!
‘Bad Skin Clinic’ airs on TLC, OSN channel 212.
5 other medical shows to watch
Dr Pimple Popper: After her ultra-satisfying videos of blackheads and cysts being squeezed out went viral on YouTube, Dr Sandra Lee got a small-screen upgrade with her own TV show. It was renewed for a third season this July.
Diagnosis: This new Netflix show is less gory and more emotional as it follows Dr Lisa Sanders and her attempts to diagnose patients with rare illnesses. It’s Dr Gregory House minus the snark and loads more tears.
The Toe Bro: Foot specialist Jonathan Tomines is another success story from the internet, having found fame thanks to his icky but interesting videos on YouTube. Viewers can follow cases of ingrown toenails, embedded objects and more on the show.
Botched: When plastic surgery goes wrong, doctors Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif come to the rescue and offer to set things right. The show – which features plenty of bad nose jobs and uneven breast implants – was renewed for a sixth season this year.
Ask the Doctor: If you’re looking for some wholesome and informative entertainment, then the three docs from this Australian show have your back. Dr Shalin Naik, Dr Renee Lim and Dr Sandro Demaio discuss things like the common cold and medical myths.