Mail (May, 1998)

Benefitting from a Sunshine OD
from Kym

Ed: I am a 27 year old psoriasis sufferer. My affliction first started rearing its ugly head 14 years ago. I, like many others, have tried almost everything to clear myself up.

Since the age of 13, I have only been 100% clear once. Now, I know that too much sun exposure is supposed to make the plaques worse, but in this case it made them all go away. I was clear for almost a year and a half, but I do not suggest that anyone try this at home. (Wink.) My brother and I went to the beach with a friend. They went swimming while I laid on the shore to get a little sun. Two hours later, they woke me up. The bad part of all this was I got sun poisoning, but the good part was my skin cleared up.

Now, to get to the reason I am actually writing to you. My dermatologist recently prescribed Dovonex ointment for me, along with Temovate (a steroid cream). So far, the regimen has worked wonders for me. I am not cleared, mind you, but the plaques are now nothing more than a minor irritation. The only problem now is the cost. Dovonex, up here in Connecticut, costs $120 a tube, and the Temovate is around $55. What I am hoping for is a treatment that works just as well, but at the same time is cost-effective. -Kym

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Ed's Response: It would probably take me about 15 minutes of sun exposure to get "poisoned," but I'm melanin-deficient on top of being psoriatic (an albino pretender). I've had severe sun poisoning once and can attest to the fact that it isn't any fun.

I can't help but wonder, Kym, have you tried UVA, UVB or PUVA treatments? If your inadvertent nap left you lesion-free for a year, you might respond well to these so-called light therapies.

I'm told it's the cumulative exposure to UV light that is really dangerous ... more so than the rare case of burn or poisoning. And it's not looking like an old leather shoe that's the worst of it, it's the skin cancer that can result.

I'm wrapping up a Dovonex trial myself right now and will probably have something to say about it in next month's update. I think, in Kentucky, I can get Dovonex for between $80 and $100 per 100g tube (or, I should say, that's what my prescrips insurance pays ... I pay $3). Your price on the Temovate sounds similar to around here. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of having a minority chronic skin condition is lower demand for the drugs, hence higher prices. I think those high prices are the principle reason so many of us continue to try non-prescription remedies. -Ed

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