Inverness dermatologist appears on ‘My Strange Addiction’

By KATIE COLE / Lifestyles Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Dr. Elizabeth Jacobson of Inverness Dermatology has seen her share of unusual patient problems.

She’s had patients who believe their skin is infected with bugs. Others have compulsively picked at their fingernails and toenails or pulled out their hair.

“I think we can film a series,” she said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of psychology mixed with dermatology.”

Jacobson encountered a new problem this summer when she was contacted to appear on “My Strange Addiction” on The Learning Channel. The show features people who battle unusual compulsions such as eating toilet paper, extreme body building and thumb sucking.

Jacobson was recruited to help a Birmingham woman face her addiction to bleach, specifically, bathing in it daily.

“The patient, Gloria, who is the focus of the show, lives in Birmingham, so they wanted a dermatologist in the area,” she said.

Jacobson said she was contacted about the show about a month ago and they filmed the episode a few weeks ago.

Jacobson said the office remained open during filming and the process took a few hours total.

“My part was really not that long, maybe about 30 minutes,” she said. “Most of it was them filming (Gloria) and talking to her … They were really professional. They really seemed to have her interests at heart.”

In a clip from the episode on the show’s website, Gloria said that she cleans her entire house with bleach. Eventually, she moved to using large amounts of bleach when she bathed or showered.

Jacobson said Gloria’s skin was “super dry and irritated” from bathing in bleach daily.

“She just said she always felt like her skin was dirty,” Jacobson said.

Jacobs said dermatologists sometimes recommend eczema patients add a capsule or two of bleach when they bathe, but Gloria did not have the skin condition. Jacobson said bathing in large amounts of bleach can cause numerous problems including dry skin and breaks and infections in the skin. Bleach fumes can be fatal when mixed with some household cleaning products.

The episode aired Sunday, Aug. 7, and Jacobson said she received a lot of feedback from friends and patients.

“A lot of my patients saw me on TV,” she said. “They said it was nice to see me dressed up for work because they usually see me in scrubs.”