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Sanding and Polishing Lesions
from Peter B.

Thank you Ed for a great site!

My qualifications: P for 25 years with recent development sufficient to have me on Raptiva.

Here's the story:  My sweet wife was recently in the shopping mall when she was accosted by one of those hawker types who hang out in booths in the middle of the mall.  He was touting the "French System" which guarantees sparkling and beautiful nails in five minutes in your own home! He actually had a French accent, too.

The French System consisted of three strips of fine grit silicon carbide abrasive of successively finer grit (my guess 400, 600 and 800 US grit) and a bottle of mineral oil. On the bottle is a nice picture of the Eiffel tower under which it says Manufactured in USA.

The process actually works very nicely, abrading away the microscopic ridges on the nails, and after applying the mineral oil the nails looks and feels stunning. My wife proudly showed me her nails and the kit which she purchased for $30.

Appalled, I went into my garage and found a few sheets of wet/dry abrasive paper and proceeded to show my wife that she could have had the same results for a few cents.

What has this to do with P, you may ask?  Well I have fairly severe P on my hands and nails. First, the French System does a fairly good job of making P-nails look acceptable.  Second, when my hands become dry, cracked and sandpaper-like a quick going over with 240 grit paper followed by a good hand cream (such as Cutemol) makes them both feel and look better. I work in a job where people closely watch what I do with my hands, and I find that if I use the French System twice a day I can avoid most of the embarrassment (and discomfort).

This is obviously not a cure, but I hope some of our P sufferers will benefit from a little Gallic methodology.  So after all, I am indebted to my wife for her discovery of the French System and I have to admit it was $30 well spent! Regards,  -Peter B.

PS. I'm on my first week of Raptiva and experiencing peculiar dull aching behind the eyes.  Wish me luck.

*****

Ed’s Response:  Something very similar was done to my feet years ago.  The podiatrist started with a scalpel on the thickest lesions but wound up using a very fine sandpaper pretty much all over the soles of my feet.  They were baby-smooth, supple and no longer painful to walk on when he was finished.  (When he started using the sand paper he put on a nose/mouth mask and I soon learned why: the cloud of skin-dust grew large over the next few minutes!)

I’ve used everything from cheap emery boards to high speed routers on my fingernails and, as you reported, sometimes this can make P-nails look better.  This from Flake: Confessions of a Psoriatic:

When nail psoriasis spread beyond my thumbnails to, eventually, corrupt every nail on both hands, I got desperate....  I went at my deformed nails with an emery board — and, much to my surprise (or maybe I was fooling myself) I seemed to achieve some improvement in their appearance.  I managed to level out some of the ridges, straighten up some of the rough edges.  Yeah, anybody who took a look would know something was grossly wrong here, but the nails weren’t as bad as they had been prior to using the emery board.

Later I got real creative.  I rigged a way to attach sandpaper to an electric screwdriver....  That year I concluded the family holiday video to my parents with a macro-close-up of my nail psoriasis and a narrative description of the way I was “sanding off the rough spots.”  My dad took this to heart and bought me a high-speed handheld router for Christmas, complete with a set of sanding tips.

I’ve since cooled to this method of cosmetic dermatology for nail psoriasis — especially after the pinky finger on my left hand caught fire.

When you use the fine sandpaper on your hands you are descaling your lesions with an abrasive, which can be a less damaging way of removing scale than, say, scratching.  On the other hand, as I’ve learned the hard way, you can by accident take it too far.  If you abrade into the living layers of skin this technique can backfire, cause a Koebner Phenomenon by creating a new lesion or making one worse.  Probably in your own technique, the use of a good hand cream (you mentioned Cutemol) may mitigate against this kind of damage. 

For somebody with steady hands and a low threshold for pain, the French System may work well.  (I say “low threshold for pain” because it’s only when the sanding starts to hurt that you have a clue you may be taking it too far.)

Thanks for sharing, Peter.  -Ed

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