Facebook Tried to Diagnose my Face Rash. They Failed.

Posted on November 6, 2014

I have a face rash. Well truth be told, I HAVE A FACE RASH!!!

Face rashes are embarrassing, stigmatizing and uncomfortable. I worry it looks like an STI (which is probably the most stigmatizing thing in the whole world). I told my shrink about my rash and she asked if I was sure I didn’t have bedbugs. When it comes to a face rash, especially one around the mouth, all logic goes out the window and fear sets in. 

Which is why I did what any reasonable person would do. When MonsterRash appeared, I Googled my symptoms. I searched for words such as “painful, scaly, bumpy, pussy (yes… pussy but no, not my private parts), mouth, eyes, stomach” etc etc. That was round one of my Google search… what it looked and felt like, where the rash was on my body.

I Google My Symptoms Round two went to a whole new level. I battle a complicated and murky condition. So I used the search terms above in conjunction with terms such as “autoimmune, flare up, inflammation, steroid” and so on and so forth.

Unfortunately my Google searching turned up empty, so I visited my doctor. She felt that I probably had a rosacea and acne hybrid. She prescribed two topical ointments and agreed that I should try these out before splurging on a dermatologist. Note: My General Practitioner is free, specialists are $75.

And the two ointments helped (MetroGel and Hydrocortisone). Sort of. They kept the monster on my face at bay on good days. And offered me relief from the pain on bad days (though monster rash was still highly visible).

So when I saw an ad on my Facebook feed for something called Atopic Dermatitis (which I learned later was just Eczema). I was both freaked and thrilled. I was thrilled because I felt that Facebook had diagnosed my monster rash. If you have never met me, click on ‘What is CIDP’ to learn about my struggle with a murky diagnosis. I was freaked because I felt that Facebook diagnosed my monster rash. Honestly, What The F.

Atopic Dermatitis Facebook For a week or so, I decided to treat my rash as Eczema. I used a much milder face wash and laid off on smell good face lotions. And it was fine, until I started having a flare up. And MonsterRash got angry. Very angry. MonsterRash was causing my eyes to swell, it was highly uncomfortable, and was getting bigger.

I didn’t really think there was any harm in using a mild face wash and some boring face lotion to treat an inflamed face. But that’s what this Facebook ad did to me. It made me think my symptoms were manageable. It prevented me from going to the dermatologist I had planned on going to one week prior (an appointment I actually canceled). And this realization scares me.

I believe Facebook used medical search terms that I entered into Google, and I believe it used those search terms to advertise a medical diagnosis to me. If you are not aware of what Native Advertising is, it works very hard to match the form and function of the website where it appears. So in this case, a sponsored ad looked like a status update and it grabbed my attention. A sponsored ad for an Eczema clinical trial.

I just got home from the dermatologist. She was very clear with me that I do not have Atopic Dermatitis. I have a Rosacea that will flare up (oh joy). She was also very clear with me that I have let this go on too long, I’m a bit nervous it may leave permanent marks. But she injected my face with some crap and gave me for four other prescription craps to ingest and slather all over my face.

And I know, I know… I should not have paid attention to this one Facebook ad. I also know I should never Google my symptoms. But I did, and I do. And I’m not the only one. I suppose this just makes me wonder, does Facebook have a right to advertise to my stupid symptom Googling or are they just punishing me?

Regardless, I would like to say this to Facebook: Not even global domination can diagnose this face rash… and please don’t try harder next time.

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