Virtual checkups: The doctor will see you now…online


“DO you sleep on your side? That side where you have the rashes on your face?” Doc Claire asked me.

It was at that moment I realized why I’ve been sneezing just before bedtime, and why I would have these flare-ups the more our bedsheets and blankets smell nice.

“It’s the fabric conditioner!” I almost screamed. Or, in our case, our extreme overuse of fabcon.

I’ve had these problems even before the pandemic. Rashes would suddenly appear on my face and on my eyelids. I thought it was because I’ve had too much chicken or tuna, or maybe if I was too stressed. My skin would also flare up every time I commute, so it could also be pollution.

But there were times when I just couldn’t sleep because the flare-ups were so itchy—and just as I was about to raise my hand to my face, Doc Claire called out: “No don’t scratch it!”  already anticipating what I was about to do.

“You better get yourself a stress ball,” she suggested.

I had my very first “teledermatology” appointment or “virtual checkup” last Saturday. Dr. Claire Habito was in Laguna while I was in Quezon City, but thanks to Zoom and fast PLDT Fibr, I was finally able to consult with a dermatologist about my problem. The rashes had been getting bothersome, and as much as I wanted to have them checked-up, going to the hospital and the probability of taking home the virus wasn’t worth the risk.

My online checkup was done via Zoom, which coincidentally was also how I met Doc Claire. It was also during a Zoom event and she was recommended by my good friend Erica Brenz.

B.C. (or Before Covid), Doc Claire’s clinics were at the Los Baños Doctors Hospital and Asian Hospital. She has a special interest in supportive oncodermatology, an emerging field that deals

with skin, hair and nail side effects from cancer treatment. This led her to write the book Staying Beautiful and Hopeful: A Cancer Patient’s Skin Care Guide, and eventually create Skin Care for Hope, a new local skin-care brand that offers mild, safe and moisturizing skin-care products that are dermatologist-approved and specially formulated for sensitive skin.

Since the pandemic, however, like most doctors, she also had to shift online and do most of her teledermatology consultations online, either via Facebook (, where she offers free online teledermatology consultations every Saturday) or Viber.

She had also been trying several apps for her consultations, but I was her first Zoom patient. She told me she might actually switch to Zoom as the video quality was much clearer and more secure; the only problem is that with the booking of appointments, Facebook is much easier.

Online consultations have become part of the new normal, as it is safer for patients instead of having them to go to hospitals. There are exceptions of course, such as some of Doc Claire’s cancer patients and those with more serious conditions that she needs to see personally. She also warned about “fake doctors” on Facebook that also offer virtual consultations. So, unless you are sure, it would be a better idea to use apps, such as mWell or SeeYouDoc to find real physicians.

While her patients have been receptive to the change, it did present some challenges, especially for the elderly who are not too familiar with using technology. There is also the issue of video quality as she needs to see the skin problem clearly. In my case, I sent her some photos first just to make sure she sees the details better. One positive about doing everything online, she says, is that everyone needs to book an appointment, so she knows exactly how many patients she’d have, allowing her to better manage her time.

According to her, most complaints during the pandemic were usually rashes, eczema, atopic dermatitis, dandruff, fungal infections, noting a rise in cases of tinea versicolor or what is commonly known as an-an among children because they are stuck in the house.

Each consultation usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes, and prior to my appointment, I received an email with a patient informed consent form that I had to fill up. In that form, she advises her patients that there may be a difference between the accuracy of clinical care using telemedicine compared to a face-to-face consult.

A few pointers to remember before your virtual checkup. Again, make sure you have a fast, stable internet connection (don’t do this while driving please!). Good lighting also helps a lot. Be ready with your previous examinations, labs and prescriptions, as the doctor may ask about your medical history. Write down your questions and have someone record your consultation or take notes.

Doc Claire sent me my diagnosis and prescription soon after my check-up.

Her diagnosis was atopic dermatitis, or skin asthma, which may be caused by allergies (fabcon, strong detergent) or food, or be triggered by stress. Atopic eczema is an on-and-off problem, she noted, and it’s important to find the triggers. “Dust is a major culprit, so to prevent dust, keep your sheets clean, wash your hands, and do not touch your face with dirty hands.” Allergic rhinitis also contributes to eye itchiness, so it’s better to have antihistamine on hand which you should take whenever you get a rhinitis attack, she advised.

She then gave me a prescription for a cream and reminded me again not to touch the rashes because scratching will just make it even worse. I asked her which Skin Care for Hope products I could use, and she suggested the Mild Oatmeal Soap Bar and the Face and Body Lotion twice a day as moisturizing makes the skin integrity better so that skin is stronger and more resilient.

Skin Care for Hope Moisturizing Oatmeal Soap Bar moisturizes by creating a film of colloidal suspension on the skin that attracts water, making the skin smoother and softer. The Face and Body Lotion, on the other hand, hydrates and replenishes skin moisture without blocking pores. It also contains aloe vera, calendula, sunflower and chamomile extract to soothe sensitive skin, and is paraben-free.

You can check out more of their products at and their official stores on Shopee and Lazada.


BECAUSE of my carpal tunnel syndrome, I try to get a massage at least twice a month to alleviate the pain, but due to the lockdown, that won’t be possible anytime soon. There’s home service, but booking strangers might not be the best idea.

The beauty-and-wellness sector has been hit hardest by these repeated lockdowns, and businesses have had to come up with ways to adapt or risk closure.

MassageMNL, the first and leading specialized home-service massage brand, uses technology and social media to reach their loyal customers while ensuring the safety of their staff.

In 2020, MassageMNL had to close during the ECQ and since they want to continue to give livelihood to their team, they created a Facebook group called “MassageMNL Riders” to help people with their errands, pabili service and etc. The in-house riders of the company are all in the group and group members can just post to see if anyone is available to help them. MassageMNL CEO and Founder Janine Khazaie shared that all of the employees are like family and they wanted to make sure they are well-provided despite the lockdown.

Recently they partnered with different SMEs to disseminate information and to tell inspiring stories with MNL Talks. MNL Talks kicks it off with a conversation about motherhood during the pandemic. Since parenting has drastically changed because of Covid-19, online talk sessions have been helpful for parents to communicate with others and to learn other skills. It also aims to get the community closer and to give platform for stories, businesses and relationships.

The first webisode of MNL Talks is in partnership with TinyBuds, Swaddies, Nurserie and Pink Lemon Wear. The brand partners will provide giveaway prizes to those who will join the conversation during the live sessions.

MassageMNL ( offers specialized massages including prenatal/postnatal home service massages, lactation, lymphatic drainage, sports massage for athletes, myofascial release and even baby and kid’s massages. You could also opt for the more traditional Swedish, combination, foot reflex, deep tissue, ventosa and hot stone. 

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