Reality TV Show with the thickest skin:


The skinema tribe has spoken: "Survivor" has the most skin issues of any so-called reality programming. We have already documented the cold sores, hand burns, hair loss, and birthmarks of "Survivor's" Australian episodes in early 2001, but in the African installments, problem skin survives.

One of the early contestants to get ejected was otherwise lovely Jessie Camacho. Olive skin, a cute beauty mark, but those lips! Dryness and irritation of the lips is called chelitis. This is usually the result of dehydration (most likely reason in her case), so fluids and thick lip balms applied to lips wet with water can help. People tend to lick dry lips, and saliva can produce more inflammation, resulting in eczema. Therefore, anti-inflammatory cortisone creams may be employed to break this cycle. However, oral yeast, certain medicines, and sun damaged cells can also create chelitis. Any ongoing lip problem that doesn't respond to the above regimen should be evaluated by a health care expert. Which can only happen after one is tossed out of the tribe, which happened to Camacho this very episode.


Those of us who found contestant Lindsey Richter whiny, lazy, and annoying saw Karmic retribution when she found a tick embedded in her posterior. That's right, a tick bit her on the bum. Unlike tiny deer ticks in certain areas of the US, large African ticks are fortunately not carriers of the bacterial nightmare Lyme disease. There are many ways to extract a tick, including use of nail polish applied to the tick to get it to release its grip. Doctors can numb the area and remove the critter surgically. Pouring hot water on Lindsey's behind was effective and probably the best technique available to the survivors. She was relieved to be tick-free. Our relief came when the tribe became Lindsey-free.


Countrified Virginia goat farmer Tom Buchanan tried to singlehandedly outdo the others skin-wise. First, Big Tom developed a Big cyst on his neck, seen just behind his jaw line. Due to an infolding of skin down a hair pore, the collected infected material then generates inflammation. We're talking pus, people. Big Tom takes his Big Time and lets this potentially Big volcano smolder. Not that he had many options in a wild life preserve. Out of Africa, the appropriate treatments are warm soaks for the conservative amateur, incision and drainage for the bold specialist. Protective goggles and gowns are always recommended because Big cysts are under Big pressure and can cause a Big explosion.


On a dermatologic roll, Big Tom also made an olfactory impression with his foot condition. There are a variety of earthy lay terms for this development: among them "Crud," "Toe jam," and "Funk of forty thousand years." In short, his feet stank--in a Big way. A combination of overgrowth of bacteria and fungus, nourished in a bath of hot sweat, pressure cooked in rotten boots, milder versions of this scenario occur daily in many men's gym shoes. The remedy is straightforward. Topical antifungal creams, antibacterial soaps and the ceremonial burning of the offending (and offensive) shoe would give the entire tribe Big relief.

Though portrayed as kind of a creep, Santa Cruz competitor Lex nearly won. He was generally well-liked by the other players and his athleticism and mental prowess were among the top of the group. In a movie, with his extensive tattooing, he'd likely portray a thug. But in reality, he showed that tattooed folk like to spend weeks starving in the hot sun, attempting silly challenges, dodging lions, only to lose the million dollars. Are they so different from you or I?

Her ankles may have swelled, but Kim Johnson, the oldest contestant of the season, made it all the way to the number two spot. She won the final immunity challenge by baking longer than the others in hot African sun. While her competitors may have been smarter or more physically fit, Kim had clearly trained all her life for this challenge. Years of excess sun tanning had created a leathery hide on her trunk and back that could withstand that day's intense UV radiation. Only Crocodile Dundee's croc-like skin could have outlasted her. So unless your goal is to stand in the African savanna holding onto some idiotic pole while all the world comments on the fact that your skin resembles a pair of Alligator boots, be sun wise instead and hold on to your youthful skin as long as possible. The tribe has spoken.


We'd mention Ethan, the eventual winner, except he was somewhat dull. Plus, his skin held up too well for our purposes--maybe next time!

Runners up, thick-skinned Reality Show:

None until someone on "Temptation Island" shows up with the rash of syphilis.

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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