A Case for Optimism

Dr. Feldman

As we enter the post-holiday winter doldrums, with shorter, darker days, it can be easy to focus on the negative. But there is still so much to be positive about, as a surgeon I know pointed out. He said, “We live in the best 1% of times in all of human history.  In America, we live in the top 1% of all the people living in those times.  And if you are a doctor in America, you are blessed to be living among the top 1% of Americans.  If you are a doctor in America and are pessimistic about your life, there’s something very wrong.”

As a dermatologist, I find it especially difficult to remain pessimistic in the face of all the amazing advancements in this field. In this issue, Adam Friedman, MD, FAAD, discusses the great potential of cannabinoids for treating a variety of skin ailments. With the increasing acceptance of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, research into its uses has been growing, resulting in a host of promising new treatments for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, scleroderma, and even melanoma. You can read about it beginning on page 33.

Of course, a big part of learning something new is “recognizing that what you used to know just ain’t so,” to paraphrase family physician, Dr John Dykers. We spoke with 2 experts about the new melanoma guidelines, which were updated late last year for the first time since 2011, and what practical considerations those changes may have for dermatologists, starting on page 45. 

As positive as many changes can be, the process of change can often still be quite difficult, and we should remember that when dealing with patients. Counseling someone with hidradenitis suppurativa to lose weight may be undeniably beneficial for their skin condition, but harder for them to put into effect. We outlined several strategies to help, beginning on page 42. 

Despite all the reasons for positivity that surround us, people have a powerful tendency to focus only on the negative. Hopefully, this will be the year that you and your patients change that outlook. 

Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Editor

Dr Feldman is with the Center for Dermatology Research and the Departments of Dermatology, Pathology, and Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC