There is no doubt that the way we, the British public, interact with the doctors has changed since COVID-19 hit. Things we may have normally gone to our local general practitioner (GP) for might now be relegated to the world of Google and WebMD, shown by a 30% decrease in appointments for the GPs. However, some problems have always been seen as far too embarrassing to talk to someone about face to face.
Issues that may have once featured on shows like Embarrassing Bodies have now found a home in our Google search history. But what are the most common questions asked?
Online health and wellbeing retailer StressNoMore has conducted a study into exactly this. Upon analysing the most searched for sweat, constipation, and generally ‘embarrassing’ topics, they discovered that the top ten most searched for questions.
Coming in at a respectable third place is a query that has almost 15,000 searches each month is the ever so simple “how to remove warts”. Warts are a small skin blemish that can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact that many see as unsightly. Commonly they are found on hands or feet but cause no real harm, certainly not something worth visiting the doctor’s for in the midst of a pandemic!
In second place, there is a question googled by teenagers and adults alike; “how to treat acne”. It is hardly surprising with the rise in acne due to masks and many people going makeup free during lockdown that our natural complexion would amass on average 18,000 searches per month.
Finally, in first position, with a massive 33,000 people searching this each month in the UK alone – the sum of the two runners up combined – is “how to treat thrush”. Thrush is incredibly common with around three-quarters of women suffering from it at some point in their lives. Due to the taboo around vaginal health, it is no surprise that this topic has been relegated to people’s search bars. Despite common myths, thrush is not linked to bad hygiene or even solely a women’s issue so can flare up in anyone without much warning.
Other questions ranged from “what causes constipation” to “how to get rid of bad breath” with number 10 on the list being “why do I pee when I cough” at 480 searches a month.
If anything this research shows that there is a massive taboo surrounding female’s health issues and body image problems. If we were more open as a society with such problems then maybe those self-diagnosing and suffering from “cybercondria” due to googling their symptoms would lessen. It is inevitable that if you’re feeling under the weather a quick internet search is very tempting. Searching will either put your mind at ease or convince you that you’re dying as Google is wrong a third of the time. If in doubt, always consult a medical professional rather than Google.
Words by Danni Scott
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