(April, 1999)

Son's Uncle Flakes and Now Son Has Problems
from Worried

Dear Ed: My son of 21 already is at the point where the military has him putting ointments and cremes on his hands and wearing gloves at night. He does not have lesions and at times he doesn't even have a rash but he says he can always feel his skin tighten and itch when he removes his clothes at night. I have hope that this will not mean that he will have the same terrible problem my brother has but since I know that P is in the family I'm a more than a little concerned.

What is a Mother to do? -Worried


Ed's Response: What your son's docs have prescribed is called "occlusion therapy" and it may or may not be associated with a P diagnosis. If the word "psoriasis" hasn't been mentioned to your son, he probably doesn't have it—yet.

Occlusion therapy is simply a technique of making topical medications work better and longer. One problem with topical lotions, gels and ointments is a part of the base—the formula that "contains" the medication and allows it to be spread on the skin—evaporates. By constricting the airflow around the effected area, evaporation is curbed, the base stays moist giving the medicine a better chance of being absorbed fully and deeply into the skin.

I've had sensitive skin all my life, including a litany of rashes and vitiligo (absence of pigmentation). P didn't erupt until I was 39. If your son is like me, there's no telling if he'll become a flaker in the future. Does he like to play in the ocean? Sea water, for many, is a natural P palliative. If he's a salt-water buff and has a proclivity to flake just waiting to be triggered, maybe a marine life might keep it at bay.

One thing you can do to help. Make sure he lets his docs know that he is related to a psoriatic. That will tip them to be looking for early signs. He just might avoid the agonies of mis-diagnosis that so many others who have written here have experienced.

Good luck! -Ed

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