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How I manage my problem skin

By David Coory

My mother was a redhead of Scottish descent and had the sun-sensitive skin that usually goes with red hair. She would never expose her skin to the summer sun as it would burn within minutes.

My father on the other hand was descended of Lebanese ancestry and had the beautiful olive skin for which the Lebanese are renowned.

However I appear to have mostly inherited my Mum’s sun-sensitive skin, especially on my head, face and hands. This skin type is annoying in our sunny Kiwi climate, especially when you enjoy the outdoors like I do.

As a result, from about age 45 I have had ongoing problems with minor skin conditions on my head, face and hands, the common type called solar keratosis.

At first I had these solar keratosis spots frozen off by a nurse at a local medical centre in Tauranga. This would cause huge unsightly and painful blisters for about a week and sometimes minor scarring.

So eventually I developed our popular and effective salicylic acid paste, a far more pleasant treatment.

In updating my research on solar keratosis for this article, I was intrigued to read of a study by a J. Frank reported in a 1985 issue of the Australian ‘Wellbeing’ magazine. The study involving the taking of 22 mg of zinc sulphate a day, for 26 patients with keratosis. The reported result over 9 -12 months was the gradual ‘falling off of keratotic horns on the skin’ and conversion of the skin to ‘moist, soft and pliable’.

I cannot locate the original study but have decided to test this treatment over the next year on myself and report back to you in due course.

The only other regular health treatment I apply to my skin, apart from a healthy diet is a light application of a few drops of olive oil and water to my face and scalp each morning after shaving.

I did find hemp oil was much better, but the smell was unpleasant. Also once or twice a week, before bed I apply Aloe Vera gel to my face and hands, directly applied from plants I grow in my garden.

Just changing the subject a little in closing, my Mum developed several heart problems in her 80’s, partly due I suspected to lack of vitamin D from her above mentioned avoidance of sunshine. So I persuaded her to try a vitamin D supplement and her overall health rapidly improved. Mum then began taking our CAA capsules regularly which contain a generous amount of vitamin D. Sadly she died earlier this year at age 95 of general old age and a long standing heart valve weakness. She also longed to be with Dad who died last year aged 96.

What is a solar keratosis?

A solar keratosis (also called actinic keratosis) is a small, thickened, scaly growth which develops on the skin. It is the most common skin condition resulting from sun-damaged skin. It is caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun over many years.

They are usually rough, scaly patches on sun-exposed areas such as the head, face or hands. They are common, especially in older people, many of whom have more than one. Usually they are harmless but there is a small risk (20%) that they may eventually turn into skin cancer. So treatment is usually advised.