skin deep

After my wonderful placement week (no sarcasm in that at all), I reckon I’ve been thinking of work more like placement. I liked placement this semester because it was a full-time week, so it was a more comprehensive experience. Plus, I learnt heaps from it. But, really, the main differences between work and placement are that you get paid for it, and you’re expected to clean shelves, etc. Although cleaning is a bit of a downer, money is a plus, so it balances out. From this, one could say that placement and work are just about the same thing.

I’ve been trying to be more proactive about learning stuff from work. I had work 9-5 yesterday and I learnt so much. Quite a few people came to the pharmacy with skin-related complaints. We were taught skin stuff in first year (and from what I remember, there wasn’t an incredible lot of detail because there’s only a limited number of lectures they’re allowed to give us), so my knowledge is a bit .. incomplete when it comes to dermatology stuff. Usually, if it’s a symptom-based request, I’ll consult/double-check with the pharmacist before recommending treatment. Just thought I’d share a few cases here…

One gentleman who came to the pharmacy had a rash on the side of his foot, which he said just appeared overnight. It was quite red, but not weeping or bleeding or anything. I can’t remember exactly if he said it was itchy or not, but I think he said it was sometimes itchy. Well, anyway, seeing as there were no signs of infection and there were no open wounds, it was ok to use a cortisone cream. I think he also went away with an antihistamine because the pharmacist suspected an allergic reaction because he did mention that he had been wearing new shoes the day before.

Another gentleman presented with what he suspected to be an insect bite very close to the eye (happened overnight while he was sleeping hence he didn’t feel anything at the time of being bitten). There isn’t really a specialised product for this niche market, so the only thing that can really be done (in terms of antiseptics) is to use the normal creams for insect bites, but to apply a small amount very, very carefully because these creams usually tell people to avoid application around the eyes. Of course, the person would need to avoid rubbing the eye, and wash the eye if they accidentally got some cream in it.

The third interesting scenario was a young lady with suspected allergic dermatitis on her arms. Some sores were weeping, and she described it as quite itchy, but she’s been trying to stop herself from scratching. When asked, she said it was likely to be a reaction to soy milk because she had recently started drinking it again (allergic reactions can be delayed by a few days). The pharmacist confirmed that it was an allergic reaction by confirming that the rash had started in one spot and spread from there. Using a steroid cream on open wounds can delay healing, so the only thing that could be recommended was general antiseptic cream and oral antihistamines. The Pinetarsol range could also be helpful.

There was another lady who came in to ask about a cream for a rash or something, but I don’t remember much of it because I had to go serve some other customers…

But in the afternoon, another gentleman came in to ask for something for a small rash sort of on his jawline. He said he got rid of it with a cream, but then it came back. The pharmacist reckoned it was from shaving or aftershave or something. It was acne-like, so either Clearasil or pHisohex could be used.

Well, after all this, I reckon I’m a bit more confident with dealing with symptom-based requests for skin conditions. It’s like what happened with eye conditions. I think we only had one lecture about general eye conditions, so I learnt pretty much everything I know on the topic from my own reading or from work/placement or other people.

If anyone wants help/advice for treating/managing a skin or eye condition (or something else!), I can hopefully be of some assistance (otherwise, we can both do some learning).

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