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Skin Conditions - Ichthyosis Vulgaris


Ichthyosis Vulgaris is a genetic and hereditary skin condition in which the regeneration of the skin is defective at the genetic level. It is the most common and the mildest form within the family of genetic skin defects known as Ichthyosis. In Vulgaris the rate of shedding of the dead skin is slower than normal. As a result, the skin could become dry, flaky and even scaly. While milder cases of Vulgaris often result in only minor cosmetic problems in limited parts of the body, more severe cases would result in both terrible cosmetic problems all over the body and also functional problems. The cooling function of the skin is impaired when dryness and flakiness of the skin inhibit sweating, causing a bad prickly itch discomfit. However, the severity of both cosmetic and functional problems is a function of climate and weather. Vulgaris, as opposed to the rarer and more severe forms of Ichthyosis, allows for an underlying ability to sweat. Even people with the more severe cases of Vulgaris can sweat profusely in the right conditions. And the right conditions are hot and humid weather. Subtropical and tropical weather facilitates sweating. Sweating exfoliates the dry and flaky skin. The improved skin in turn allows for uninhibited perspiration in a virtuous cycle. On the other hand, cold and dry weather inhibit perspiration. In the absence of sweating, dry flakiness builds up worse and worse. For the more severe Vulgaris cases, the cooling function of the skin is impaired to the point where the flakiness is so widespread and severe that the individual would suffer a bad prickly itch discomfit when he or she needs to sweat but have great difficulty doing so. For Ichthyosis Vulgaris sufferers, then, living in a tropical climate would be ideal. The constant sweating would minimize any cosmetic problems and keep any prickly itch discomfit at bay. In seasonal climates, the summer months would be heaven, while the cooler months would be hell.

Because Ichthyosis Vulgaris is a genetic condition, there is no cure. Not everyone could move to a subtropical or tropical climate. Unfortunately, known treatments are all lack than effective. Doctors often recommend lotion with alphahydroxy acid to help with exfoliation. They recommend exposure to the salt water of the ocean or salt baths. Some recommend trying sauna or steam rooms to stimulate sweating and exfoliation. However, none of these treatments can compare to the effectiveness of Bikram Yoga. The lotions do not exfoliate that well or quickly. It is hard to get in the ocean in a colder climate or prepare proper salt baths. Sauna and steamrooms temperatures are too extreme. Because of the ideal temperature and humidity of the yoga studio, the length of time for a class, the 26 postures involved, Bikram yoga is by far the most viable alternative to living in a tropical climate.

I have a very severe case of Vulgaris. This severity prompted me to relocate to a more favorable climate. Over 20 years ago, I moved to a subtropical climate on an island in the middle of the Pacific after living (or going through hell especially in the winters) in the desert of the American Southwest. But because of work in air conditioned offices, I was never able to get the full benefit from the subtropical weather. My skin was drier and more flaky than they would otherwise have been. However, when I learned of Bikram Yoga, everything has changed. I was able to sweat freely in the first class like I could not remember ever being able to do before. I did three classes in the first three days and most of the unsightly blemishes from my skin were gone. Granted, I rubbed my skin to help with exfoliation during discreet times in class also. Since then I have been coming to class two to three times a week, less so in the summer, more so in the winter, even if the change in seasons is mild. My self confidence has greatly improved. My social life has gotten way better. I am not self conscious of my skin as I was before, and I do not worry about a prickly itch discomfit. I can handle air conditioned work environments better both physically and psychologically. And I am of the belief that Bikram yoga may be a viable ticket for me to live and work in a climate cooler and drier than the subtropics or tropics. So for me Bikram yoga has truly been a godsend. And I am sure Bikray yoga would be a godsend for anyone with Ichthyosis Vulgaris, where ever he or she may live. And the harsher the climate, the greater a godsend it would be.

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