While Selfies i.e. taking pictures of yourself and posting them on social media have been hailed as the best thing since sliced bread, they've also been touted as the ultimate act of narcissism as thousands of teenage girls pout in front of a mirror.

However, the selfie is also becoming an important tool in healthcare thanks to patients taking pictures of their injuries and recording video of their symptoms to show their doctor at a later date.

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A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

Everyone’s struggled to explain what’s wrong with us while sitting, nervously, in the doctor's office as we sense our ten minute appointment time slipping away. Through no fault of their own doctors are very busy people,  so it helps if patients explain their medical issue in a clear, concise manner. However, when faced with someone who knows much more about health care than us, it’s often difficult to stand up for ourselves.
Selfies allow us to bring along photographic evidence that not only convey what’s wrong without saying a single word but can also help patients feel more empowered i.e. there’s a higher chance their doctor will believe them as opposed to just dismissing any concerns you may have. Medical studies have also shown that selfies have, on occasion, played a part in avoiding a misdiagnosis and that GP’s are being encouraged to ask their patients to document what’s wrong as symptoms can be transient.

They Can Boost Your Recovery

Depending on the illness in question a patient can use selfies to track their recovery and see in real time just how much they’ve improved as they gradually get better. Thanks to Google and WebMD, patients are more involved in their healthcare and often turn to the internet for a diagnosis before booking a doctor’s appointment. A selfie is also a fantastic psychological tool for improving someone’s mood particularly someone who’s undergone radiation treatment as they can watch their hair growing slowly back. Photos, alongside journal writing, have also been successful in treating depression as they both encourage positive behavior and making healthy choices. For instance, someone struggling with a drug or alcohol problem or wishing to give up smoking / using a starter e cig can see the difference in their skin, nails and hair after just a few short weeks of abstinence.

Not A Substitute For A Check Up

It’s great that patients can send selfies to their doctor’s or healthcare providers but remember a fuzzy camera phone picture or two-minute video isn’t a substitute for proper check up. Neither is a selfie proof of feeling unwell if your work has asked for a doctor’s note to cover a recent absence that lasted over a week. Remember, if you have a health concern the best thing to do is talk to someone, in person, who’s able to give you a comprehensive clinical exam, refer to your medical notes and talk to a colleague should they need a second opinion. It’s also important that you obtain the appropriate medication to treat whatever medical problem you may have, lots of these meds will not be available over-the-counter and you’ll need a doctor’s signature on the prescription.