Pores, Sores, and Several Yaws Ago: Dermatology in the White House
Okay, it’s not exactly the Gettysburg Address, but skin conditions seem to be a very “presidential” affliction. No matter what side of the aisle, ailments were quite common to the leaders of our country. Maybe it’s part of the “thick skin” the job requires.
Here’s a list of the skin diseases a few of the leaders of the free world brought with them into the Oval Office:
George Washington – Besides the false teeth, the father of our country suffered through smallpox. Smallpox is a serious illness caused by the variola virus. Smallpox gets its name from pus-filled blisters that form on the skin. But don’t fear, the last reported case of smallpox in the United States was in 1949. And, although they may sound similar, smallpox is not related to chickenpox, which is a much milder disease caused by a different virus.
Abraham Lincoln – Lincoln not only shares space on Mt. Rushmore with George Washington, but he also shares the distinction of suffering from smallpox. As if that wasn’t enough, during the winter of 1830-1831, Lincoln’s feet were badly frozen while crossing the Sangamon River. He was marooned for weeks in the cabin of a local family. The matriarch of the family treated Lincoln’s frostbite by putting his feet in the snow, “to take out the frost-bite.” We talked to the founder of DermatologistOnCall, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mark Seraly, MD, about this treatment method and he says this is in no way an effective treatment, and that we should all be thankful that medicine has advanced so far in the last 185 years.
Dwight Eisenhower – A few months after D-Day, the famous World War II general and 34th President had a superficial blackish nodule removed from his trunk because it was thought to be a malignant melanoma. It turned out to be seborrheic keratosis, which is not malignant. But, in the chaos of the war, nobody seems to have mentioned it to the general afterwards.
Bill Clinton – In the 1990’s, when grunge music ruled the airwaves and the internet was brand new, President Clinton suffered from a sebaceous cyst, basal cell carcinoma, and acne rosacea. If he could have just waited a few years for the internet to evolve, he would have been a great “candidate” for using DermatologistOnCall. Imagine fitting numerous dermatologist appointments into a President’s schedule!
George W. Bush – The younger of the father-son presidential pairing, George W. Bush was treated for actinic keratosis. These scaly skin lesions are caused by overexposure to the sun and, because they can become cancerous, are usually removed as a precaution. Remember, if you’re going to spend time on your ranch in the Texas sun, dermatologists strongly recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater year-round for all skin types.
So, this President’s Day, as you sing happy birthday to George Washington and his small pox, remember that no matter how small or mighty you are, you need to take care of the skin you’re in. Because, whether you rule from the White House or your own house, the health of your skin is important. Make sure to be careful in the sun and the cold (and please, don’t try the “snow” treatment), and if you have a skin issue or a spot that worries you, get quick treatment online and at your convenience from a board-certified dermatologist in your area at www.dermatologistoncall.com.