|Mar 17 2009|
Exfoliative Dermatitis is a serious disease that can be life threatening. The name sounds like a trivial aggravation - like you can apply a little medicated cream and everything is OK. Not so.
Exfoliative Dermatitis (Erythroderma) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the skin, burning it as though the patient had spent the day under a hot sun. The burn causes fever and chills. The body is unable to control its own temperature, and the person goes from hot to cold and back again. At times, it burns on the skin surface, while shaking with chills deep inside. A flare-up can last from a day to two weeks or more. Occasonally, it can be severe enough that body fluids are lost and hospitalization is required. Fluids are given to replenish the body along with steroids to bring temporary healing. Once steroid treatment is stopped, the disease takes over again. It can be a vicious cycle.
The skin sheds long before the cells can mature.. This is not your average sunburn peeling, but flakes that seem unending. A normal skin cycle is 30 days. Everyone sheds skin cells, but they are usually unnoticed in a healthy person. With the Erythroderma patient, the turnover can be as much as 10 times sooner. This is a cause for embarrasment on the part of the patient. It is worse than dandruff all over the body that gets on clothing, furniture, and floor.
The body loses protein through the skin. Other nutrients are lost as well. The disease takes a toll on the heart and many patients die of heart failure due to weakening of the heart by the disease. Other organs are affected as well.
There is no cure, but I constantly search for answers. Somewhere out there is something that will help me. It has been 15 years since the onset of my red skin. My doctor also tells me that some people spontaniously clear up for no apparent reason. I keep hoping.
I continue to do all I can to regain my health. I eat nourishing foods and walk almost every day (when I am not too sick with a flare). I wear my large hat, long sleeves, long pants, and gloves to keep the sun off because just a few moments of sun can cause another flare.
Yes, the above pictures are of me. I jokingly call myself a "red neck." I don't like sympathy, but I understand people's concern when they see my red skin. I appreciate the concern, but a little humor gets us back into a normal conversation about normal life. I don't want to be known for my red skin, but for who I am.
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