Social Media Can Cure You Or Make You A Hypochondriac

Nurses are not on Social Media! It’s only for people in Hollywood!

Those were the words uttered at a professional organization meeting I attended a few years ago. I was trying to beef up the organizations social media presence. Specifically on twitter. A few weeks after the meeting and comment, several million nurses took to social media and twitter when Joy Behar from the view made an erroneous comment about nurses not wearing stethoscopes.

The truth is: Social Media rules our world! It connects us. It brings people together. And can help discovering crazy diagnosis!

Social media came to the rescue for a dozen teens with an odd-looking skin condition that had stumped some physicians and parents.

It began with a 16-year-old girl who’d spent four weeks on a youth trip in Israel during the summer of 2014, one of her doctors wrote in the journal Pediatric Dermatology. When she came back to the U.S., she noticed a few red lesions on her ankle and thigh that, after a few weeks, became raised, ulcerated and crusty.

A skin biopsy led to an evaluation by a lab at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that revealed a diagnosis: a parasite-related condition called cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is caused by sand flea bites.

After her diagnosis, the patient turned to Facebook to spread the word to her friends from the trip, posting a photo of herself with a custom T-shirt design that featured her diagnosis.

A post on Facebook by one student helped others identify the blistery-looking rash as cutaneous leishmaniasis. DR. KANOKPORN MONGKOLRATTANOTHAI, CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND KECK SCHOOL OF MEDICINE.
“One of her fellow trip participants simultaneously posted a picture of similar skin lesions on the summer trip’s group Facebook page,” wrote lead author Dr. Kanokporn Mongkolrattanothai, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and an associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

The Facebook posts ignited discussion that helped 12 others in the group identify the same problem, which led the students’ parents seek the appropriate medical care.

Six of the teens had received an incorrect diagnosis of insect bites and one had been told it was a bacterial infection before the correct diagnosis of cutaneous leishmaniasis was identified with the help of the Facebook posts.


I can see that teen becoming a future physician or a hypochondriac in the making! Never the less, she was a hero and was able to help her fellow friends diagnose and treat an insect bite. Social Media is a great tool in education. Yes, there is a ton of information that needs to be deciphered. Health care professionals can be pivotal in coming up with the right diagnosis! Never be afraid to get a second opinion! And never place your money on the mouths of naysayers.