This is the story about how I managed my ichthyosis vulgaris.

I was born in Kerala, which is located in the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula. I am the oldest of six siblings and the one born with this condition. The first six years of my life were spent in Kerala; with the weather being hot and humid throughout the year, I did not feel the effects of ichthyosis. After I turned six, my family had to move to Secunderabad, on the Deccan plateau in central India, which has a more desert-like atmosphere. From October through to the arrival of summer in March, the temperature gets cooler and with it, the air becomes very dry. It was then that my disease began to manifest itself in full force. From teenage years on, life was agony, with fish-like scales on legs, arms and back, along with hyper-keratinization of the skin on my palms and soles of my feet, leading to painful fissures.

At age 24 I immigrated to Canada. A dermatologist in Toronto prescribed Calmurid cream, a formulation that contained 10% urea combined with 2% lactic acid. It was nothing short of a miracle. It helped with the exfoliation process. The use of salicylic acid soap, steamy soaks in the tub, and gentle abrasion with pumice made my skin almost natural looking.

Unfortunately, the day came when this wonderful cream manufactured by Pharmacia in Sweden and later, by Galderma in the UK, was taken off the market. Another product, Salicylic acid soap, first made by Stiefel, then by Glaxo Smith Kline also came to be discontinued. These two products have sadly proven to be irreplaceable in terms of efficacy in managing my condition. I have been trying various other products ever since, with varying results.

I have found that by brushing off the excess keratin and the resultant flakes before applying moisturizer produces the best results. This vigorous application of force involved in the exfoliation process carries the added benefit of stimulating the lymph channels that lie just under the skin, which can be beneficial to general health as well. Over time I managed to put together many devices to facilitate self-care – I have included pictures of these items that others may find useful.

With my strong faith in God and the power of positive thinking I have overcome this affliction and feel I have been greatly blessed. I am so happy I recently became aware of this foundation called FIRST. It’s such a great resource and a platform for sharing stories – I’m grateful for all the people and the work they do to run the foundation.

Thank you

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Neither FIRST, its Board of Directors, Medical & Scientific Advisory Board, Board of Medical Editors, nor Foundation staff and officals endorse any treatments listed here.  All issues pertaining to the care of patients with ichthyosis should be discussed with a dermatologist experienced in the treatment of their skin disorder.

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