Comedies also use the power of problem skin for a laugh. Watch us attempt to convert the Ha Ha humor into A-ha info...


Will Smith is smooth.

He gets the ladies to swoon.

But is less sexy when swollen.

Popular yet pimply superstar Will Smith makes his first foray into romantic comedy with "Hitch" as a relationship coach. His cool is shattered mid-date when he has a tightening in his throat, puffiness of his eyelids, & blushed cheeks. Is the mentor in love at last? Actually, no, just suffering a food allergy. Though played for laughs, angioedema, the severe swelling that comes with allergic reactions, is not chuckle central. Usually due to nuts, berries, milk, or insect bites, the foreign protein starts a process in motion. Much like a fan meeting Smith in public, the body's immune system gets out of control. Different from regular hives, the blotchy spots that come and go like contestants on "American Idol," and can respond to over-the-counter antihistamine pills, angioedema is a full-on medical emergency. A shot of epinephrine, given in the emergency room or self administered with an epi-pen, stops the process. The next step is avoiding the culinary culprit in the future, so that the wooing can proceed without a Hitch.

"There's Something About Mary"

This seminal work providing gross out humor to spare features three skin signs. Case in point are the hives experienced by actor Chris Elliott whenever babelicious Cameron Diaz draws near. Hives (urticaria) are caused by a release of histamine in the skin, causing redness, swelling, and itch. Commonly, hives are brought on by an allergic reaction to foods and medicines. Often, no clear cause can be determined. Stress can also play a role, as in this case. Even when a cause is determined, hives can still persist for weeks or months. Treatment includes antihistamine pills, cortisone by mouth or injection, and avoiding the material causing the allergy. That or getting the screenwriter to change the script!
Stress can also result in the second of the movie's skin findings seen too on Elliott's face. On Elliott's lower eyelid, he shows a form of acne lesion called a stye. Tender and angry, sties are essentially inflamed cysts of the lid. Like other types of acne lesions, they can be treated in the doctor's office with drainage, but also may respond to warm soaks and antibiotic pills and drops. And Elliott may want to talk to his agent about getting different roles.
Finally, Diaz' girlfriend Magda gives us a historic look at a bygone(?) era. From the 1950's to the last few years, the overly-tanned, "leather-skinned" look was the popular appearance of Caucasians. Slowly, as the knowledge that the accumulation of ultraviolet radiation causes damage to skin cells, people are beginning to wisely protect themselves from excess sun exposure. By doing this, wrinkles, discoloration, and risk of skin cancer can be minimized. At long last the "healthy" tan is being reduced by Hollywood writers to a behavior to joke about. Rather than pull out the aluminum foil, pull out the sunscreen.
Get ready to turn it up to eleven. Here two of the aging rockers from "This is Spinal Tap" clearly have herpes lesions. The unspoken joke is that their association with groupies resulted in contracting this viral illness. Aging and rocking otherwise have little to do with it. Fortunately, this chronic infection can be controlled by safe medicines like Valtrex and Zovirax. These pills cannot penetrate the nerves where the virus thrives, so the band has to keep on singing songs about Stonehenge and large bottoms to pay for their prescriptions. Chances are that they'll be playing a benefit concert for a cure coming to a town near you. And if you believe that, you should realize that there is a fine line between clever and stupid.

"Along Came Polly"

Obsessive Ben Stiller has the body check from hell, sweaty....


...and with a court full of funky tags.

When the preview for "Along Came Polly" first hit theaters, we knew that neurotic neat freak Ben Stiller's B-ball scene was pure sports skinema. As Stiller crashes headfirst into a fellow's torso, the athlete's bald head, coarse body hair, and sticky sweat are enough to make audiences reach for Rolaids instead of Raisinets. But the buzzer hasn't sounded yet: Game ON. Slow mo replay reveals an armpit full of fleshy skin tags. Much like tiny basketball hoops, these harmless appendages dribble and droop until a dermatologist slam dunks them into oblivion. Whether frozen, cut, or cauterized, these annoying tags make us wonder whether they should have called the movie "Along Came Polyp."


Movie weather forecast: Writer's creativity hits a dry spell, but his forehead shows much precipitation

Nic Cage returns to the screen as a scribe stymied by writer's block. Balding and neurotic, Cage spends much of the film profusely sweating. Adequate perspiration is crucial to control body temperature. The problem is excessive sweating, called hyperhidrosis, produced by anxiety. Certain people are veritable spigots, their underarms and palms raining fluid with little provocation. A vicious cycle, the embarrassment of the wet pits and palms creates more anxiety and more sweat. Treatment can be difficult. Not all respond to topical antiperspirants, whether over-the-counter or prescription (Drysol). In a true twist that is stranger than fiction, the wrinkle treatment Botox also works to temporarily stop sweat gland activity. Injections can keep patients dry for up to 6 to 12 months. Too bad Botox doesn't work for writer's block...

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