The Mexican Psoriasis Cure

Sometime in, I think, 1996 I developed a strange scabby rash on my scalp. It came out of the blue, for no apparent reason, and soon spread across my head to my hairline. It wasn’t painful, just a little itchy. But it didn’t go away, so a trip to the doctor was in order. First diagnosis was either a fungal infection or psoriasis. My GP leant towards fungus. She leant the wrong way – it was psoriasis. It has accompanied me for most of the last 16/17 years since.

It was a year before I was finally prescribed an effective treatment. There are no cures for psoriasis, only treatments. I went through a dozen bottles of potions and creams before I tried Cocois. It’s a thick coconut based compound that needed to be left on overnight and scratched off in the shower in the morning. But it was a relief to be, albeit temporarily, free of the scaling. For a few days.

When I went to Mexico in 2005 I took several tubes of Cocois with me. But it ran out and a new treatment was needed. Cocois wasn’t available in Mexico. My father in law turned up one day with an unlabeled plastic bottle with a strong smelling liquid in it. I gave it a go. It was much easier to apply than Cocois, and to my delight even more effective. What exactly was in the bottle was anyone’s guess. At the end of 2009 my psoriasis completely disappeared, and didn’t return.

Not until I got back to the UK anyway. Six months of British life later and the first scales appeared. It came back worse than ever. It even ventured on to my cheeks, although only mildly. Back to the doctor. Cocois is no longer made, but a new product called Sebco was identical to the last ingredient. On to my scalp it went. And in the morning I scratched it off, with all of the psoriasis. And layers of skin. My best guess is that the Mexican potion was full of steroids which had thinned the skin. This turned into a serious problem, as the wound became infected. It took five courses of different anti-biotics over several months to get shot of it.

Normally, a photo accompanies my posts. I had included a shot right here. But it’s not a terribly nice photo. Maybe not everyone really wants to see it. So I took it down. But if you are curious as to what an infection can do to a psoriasis plagued scalp – namely my scalp – then just click here and have your curiosity sated.

My head has recovered, you’ll be pleased to hear. You might be wondering what this has to do with Mexico, though. I’ll get to it. First of all, I should point out that there is no known scientific explanation for psoriasis, nor a real cure. There’s a million different treatments. I know if I tell someone I have psoriasis, there’s a fair chance they’ll me exactly what the cure is. There is a Mexican metaphor to this sort of information. It’s much like someone proudly announcing they know exactly what you need to get a Mexican residency visa. In other words, they’re probably about to spout a lot of rubbish. Like the infamous Mexican visa, everyone’s journey is different and what works for one person may well make things worse for someone else.

I’ve tried many potions, some prescribed, some natural. I’ve bought ointments in Sri Lanka – they did nothing. I’ve just bought a little pot of coal tar type oil in Morocco, which is working wonders on my cheeks. I’ll go so far as to say that, if you’re thinking of suggesting something, I’ve almost certainly already given it a go. And my opinions and suggestions are no more valid, if we’re going to be completely honest. But sometimes, hearing other people’s experiences and weighing them up against what you’ve tried and experienced can help. So while I can’t promise a cure, maybe it’ll work for someone out there.

There are two things that have really helped my psoriasis. Both of them entirely natural, and perfectly healthy even if it has no positive effect on the psoriasis. The first one is well known. Swimming in the sea. A couple of hours of splashing around, and I can feel the scales fizzing off. After a couple of days, it’s gone. And not a single medical potion needed. The saline content of the water has miraculous qualities that has helped almost everyone I know with psoriasis. This is no secret. But it has a drawback. Not everyone lives near the sea. And in the UK, most of us would rather put up with the psoriasis than swim in freezing British waters.

The second thing? I mentioned that my psoriasis completely disappeared in late 2009. It also disappeared in 1999 for a couple of months. Back then I had given up smoking and was getting fit, ready for entry into the Royal Air Force. I put it down to quitting smoking. But then in 2009, I didn’t quit smoking. Was there anything in my life that was similar in ’99 and ’09? Indeed there was.

Sweat. Lots of of it. In 1999 I was running a marathon a week, albeit split into chunks. In 2009 I started training for a marathon. I also got into cycling, riding my mountain bike up to 15 miles in day, several days a week. Under the hot Mexican sun. Boy, did I sweat. It dripped off my head by the bucketful. Little waterfalls of sweat. And, at a guess, it took my psoriasis with it. I reckon this is a pretty good guess. It makes sense. Sweat, just like sea water, is very salty. I kept up the cycling and running throughout 2010 and the beginning of 2011. And the psoriasis kept away. Completely. Not a scale in sight. Cured. I find it harder to sweat in the UK, even when I do go out and ride. In winter it’s just so cold, you never quite build up the temperature needed*.

So there is my cure. Move to Mexico. Get on your bike. Sweat. Get fit and healthy at the same time to boot. And a tan. What’s not to love about this ‘cure’?

* I did recently go on a long bike ride wearing a thermal hat,  which I kept on even as I felt my head reach boiling point. This was surprisingly effective, loosening up the psoriasis enough to remove quite a bit of it without Sebco. But I simply don’t have time to do this three times a week.

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6 comments

    1. Perhaps the photo was a bit much. I’ve removed it. Perhaps I’ll put a link up to it later for those who have safely digested their breaky and are curious as to what an infected psoriasis scalp looks like.

  1. I have psoriasis, the specific details of which I might share in conversation but not here. However, my doctor prescribed me an ointment called “Protopic.” It wouldn’t be nice to put on your scalp as it’s a lot like vaseline. And I’d imagine that you’d have to fight to get the National Health Service to give it to you as it is still on patent and costs about $145 (USD) for a small tube. However, it is VERY effective and doesn’t thin the skin. And despite the initial cost, a little goes a long way.

    Also, and you probably already know this, sunlight is very good for psoriasis. So being in Mexico might well have helped you for that reason alone. When you get back there, you might consider a crewcut for a bit. But don’t overdo it as sunburn is worse than psoriasis.

    I’m sorry you suffer this condition. It’s annoying and perplexing. But ask for the Protopic if you haven’t tried it. After using it consistently for some time, I’ve found that flare-ups can be squelched with only brief reapplications. And no, I have no idea whether Protopic is available in Mexico. Probably not.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’d like to experience some warm sun for entirely different reasons.

    1. I was going to add a little something about the NHS, but decided I had waffled on long enough. The prescription service is a strong point. I’ve never had problems getting what I need, and pay £7 and the pence regardless of the cost of the medicine. The last thing I tried (whilst I had the infection and Sebco was off limits) had a cost of £75. About $115.

      Sadly, it had no effect – same as almost all the other treatments I have ever tried. Protopic rings bells. I think I was prescribed a generic variant when I first started getting it on my face. Can’t be sure though.

      One medicine that did work was Daktacort, for psoriasis that flared up inside my ears nose and eyelids. It worked wonders.

      The sun has a positive effect on most people with psoriasis, I know. Alas, it never made the slightest difference to me. I did have some pretty short (grade 4) cuts, to no effect.

      I’m lucky and unlucky with my psoriasis. Unlucky because I get it pretty bad on my scalp, worse than most, although not so bad it removed all my hair. A bit unlucky because only two treatments have ever really worked. But lucky because, being on the scalp it’s out of sight. And the medicines that work, works well. When not ripping the flesh off my head, anyway….

      I’m looking forward to putting my own ‘cycle and sweat’ treatment going again, needless to say.

      1. You likely didn’t get a generic variant of Protopic. It’s new-ish, made in Japan, and it’s some kind of immune system modulator that is based on some kind of bacteria that grows in soil. Quite high-tech, I think, and one of those things that provides a good argument for preserving bio-diversity.

        You might ask for it; I’ve found it quite effective, though I suspect my problem is less severe than yours.

        1. Now you made me go look! The NHS prescribes a generic variant as Tacrolimus Monohydrate, which I imagine are the key ingredients. I don’t remember if I tried it, but probably not. I have an appointment to see a specialist in March, so I’ll mention it.

          One of the blessings/problems of my psoriasis is that it forms rock hard scales. Not the sort of psoriasis that powders like some people get, which is a relief. But it takes some shifting – hence the Sebco.

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