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Reflections from a Black Flaker
from K

I'm 23 years of age and I've suffered from Psoriasis for nearly my entire life. I can still remember the day I was diagnosed.

Although I was only 4 years old, I can remember the doctor telling my mother what I had and how it would never go away. I remember my mother crying and how I felt helpless. The doctor prescribed several treatments that consisted of baths of some chemical that made the tub water dark brown. My mother tried helping by picking the scales away leaving my patchy skin pink, raw and itchy. She would then apply Vaseline to the wounds. Needless to say this made my condition more noticeable and much worse. From that point, at the age of 7, I took the responsibility of caring for my skin. "Thanks, but no thanks Mom!"

During my elementary school years, I dreaded gym class. Our uniform consisted of short sleeved shirts and shorts. I purchased the largest size so that I could hide my scaly knees and elbows. With the onset of puberty at age 12, I noticed a change in my condition. I began to grow out of P a bit. I credit the remission to my increased exposure to the sun. It was during that stage of my life that I'd spent hours swimming in the scorching Chicago summer. Since that discovery, I have been able to control my P to the point of near non-existence. Because I am a black, I do not have the drawbacks of over-exposure in the sun.

I want to point this out for all of those who are "brown like me" and are in need of helpful tips. I sun bathe in front of my window 2-3 times a week. I have to keep my skin moisturized in order to prevent breakouts. I'm not sure if P is the cause of my severe dry skin, but I've noticed that moisturized skin is less likely to break out. I would also like to add that I appreciate this opportunity to connect with others of different heritages. Some of the stories brought back memories and made me cry. This condition seems to affect us all, and because of our similar experiences we are able to connect on a more intimate level. Thanks Ed, you've given me a better purpose for Internet use. -K


Ed’s Response: Thanks for your email, K. I receive many inquiries from whites curious to know if flaking is an Anglo-only disease. Now I’ll point them to your email as well as others in the archives from Native Americans, Hispanics, Chinese, Southeast Asians and Koreans. Truly, our disease ignores our skin color.

That your P changed at the onset of your puberty is also a common observation. I’ve heard from people who share your experience, others whose P got worse (or manifested for the first time) at puberty. I guess the hormonal trauma associated with puberty must be a strong but indiscriminate change agent.

Now that you’ve joined our homogeneous group, K, do stay in touch. -Ed

P.S. - I just recently had my Mark Segal 200-degree panoramic print of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan matted and framed. It’s the most prominent wallwork in my office! I love your city.

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