Our Skin- Dermatology

Picture of painted pregnant belly

What is the function of our skin?

Chapter 2 in Bill Bryson’s book provides an interesting summary.

Bill Bryson Book

General skin conditions

Book The Sick Rose
Picture from Sick Rose book

This book from the Wellcome Collection has some great medical illustrations for teaching.

There are also some excellent pictures on the Wellcome Collection of online resources.


Take a look at these amazing pieces of pottery by Tamsin Van Essen in her Medical Heirlooms Collection.

You might be old enough to remember the 1980’s BBC drama, The Singing Detective.

Mystery writer Philip E. Marlow is suffering writer’s block and is hospitalized because his psoriatic arthropathy is at an acute stage, forming lesions and sores over his entire body and partially crippling his hands and feet. 

The drama written by Dennis Potter who himself suffered from the same medical condition is surreal as the story flits between the hospital ward, his imaginary novel and war time England. Acclaimed as a TV Drama I remember as young medical student learning about the stigma and suffering of having a chronic skin condition.

You can watch the on this link

(An American film version was made in 2003 but I don’t think it’s as good, although the make-up used to portray the psoriasis is incredible)

Why do you think that people are so afraid or repulsed by skin conditions?

Maybe because people fear the illness is infectious, like leprosy. You can explore this illness in Victoria Hislop’s book The Island.


The final chapter, Daughter in Maggie O’Farrell’s autobiographical novel is a deeply moving account of a mother’s experience of caring for a child with eczema and severe allergies. A great story to discuss.

Skin decoration

Picture of temporary Tattoo
Temporary Tattoo by Tessa Perlow

There are many ways in which we embellish our skin; perfume, make up, piercings and tattoos.

Take a look at the work of Sergei Vasiliev (an historical exhibition at the Satcchi Gallery in London)

It’s conventional for women to get a nipple and areola tattoo after a complete mastectomy. Why do you think that women also choose to have more extensive artistic tattoos after breast surgery?

Post Breast Surgery Tattoo

Created January 2023