April 17th, 2009

Baby and me

Medical Malpractice(?)

DANDRUFF The ANSWER is usually vinegar. To some problems there are solutions.

What we call dandruff is often the result of a PH imbalance on the skin, which shampoo exacerbates. Wash your hair with a simple non-detergent shampoo, soap, olive oil, beer, almost anything. Rinse. Then close your eyes and pour on some vinegar. The extremely cheap but natural sort — apple cider, for example — is probably best. The smell will stimulate interesting conversations in changing-room showers and your explanation will win you friends. Wait thirty to sixty seconds. Rinse it off. The smell will go away. So will your dandruff.

All dermatologists, pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies know this simple secret. They don't tell you because they make money by converting dandruff into a complex medical and social problem. By most professional standards this would amount to legally defined incompetence or mis-representation.

Dandruff shampoos that promise to keep your shoulders and even your head clear are harsh detergents and may promote baldness, which ought to constitute malpractice.

John Raulston Saul, The Doubter's Companion

psoriasis, not my back
Not my back, praise be.

I was 29 or 30 years old when I quite suddenly developed a skin condition which was subsequently diagnosed as psoriasis. Unlike the man in the accompanying photo, my case wasn't horribly disfiguring, but it was a definite drag. In particular, it showed up on my knees and elbows, spots on my head and a few smaller ones on my face. At it's worst, my skin would be raw and bloody, though strangely it didn't hurt or even itch much.

Anyway, after it didn't go away for a couple of weeks I found myself talking with a dermatologist, who advised me psoriasis is an auto-immune disease about which little was known. He suggested a couple of medications and said we would then see whether or not they worked.

Since then, I've probably tried a good half-dozen creams and ointments, most of them including hydrocortisone, a substance that frankly makes me nervous.

All of them seemed to provide some release from the worst outbreaks, none of them actually got rid of the flaking skin or oozing sores.

So, having read the entry from Saul's rather excellent book (see my soon-to-be-updated reading list for more), it occurred to me that, Saul being no one's fool and dandruff and psoriasis both being somewhat mysterious skin conditions, that I might as well give vinegar a try.

That was a bit more than three weeks ago, since which time I haven't touched my prescription medications. And since which, the huge and ugly patch on my left knee has shrunk to the point where there are two smaller patches, rather than one big one; that on my right knee has almost disappeared; and my elbows are looking vastly better than they have for years.

So, so far, more than so good; I'll keep you posted — and will try to get my camera working so I can post a before/after photo before my skin has (knock wood) been cleaned up completely.

Cross-posted from Edifice Rex Online.

Am I convinced that this is the cure for psoriasis? Of course not; one test-subject, over the three weeks does not nearly make for a decent, double-blind study. At the same time, none of the medications I've tried have worked as well as — so far — is the cheap, apple-cider vinegar I happened to have on hand. Well enough, that a good friend of mine, who suffers from a sometimes quite awful case of eczema is going to try it on a couple of patches of his own embattle skin.

So far, more than so good; I'll keep you posted — and will try to get my camera working so I can post a before/after photo before my skin has (knock wood) been cleaned up completely.