Okay, so it's not on a par with a stroke, or Lung Cancer. I began trying to deal with scaling, skin peeling away leaving bloody sub-dermis and large flaps of skin dangling from my hands in 2008 when my beloved SWMBO-lady was diagnosed with Phase 4 Lung cancer. I was too embarrassed to mewl about my petty problems while she was dying, and so while I did mention it from time to time, I tried to shut up except here in the privacy of my own personal "Selfie".
SWMBO died 30 months later. I was devastated. And my skin was still peeling away from my hands. Perhaps it was God's Will, perhaps it was an emotional reaction to Her fatal trauma. God knows it was impossible to watch that vibrant lady age daily at a rate that I could expect to occur in years, but I didn't actively seek treatment until she was gone.
The Thing is a 2-part: Diagnosis, and Treatment.
My GP (General Practitioner .. family doctor) thought I had a fungus. I treated it like athletes foot for a year. It didn't help.
Then I got a referral to a Dermatologist. Do you know about Dermatologists? They're medical doctors who are to slow or lazy or incompetent to make it as a 'real doctor'. This guy took 30 seconds to look at my hands and decided I had Eczema. I never knew what that was, but he prescribed for it. And he also told me to not wash my hands more often than absolutely, and use a lot of hand lotion.
I learned to hate the very smell of hand lotion. And it didn't help.
Then somehow I got a referral to a 'real Dermatologist' .. someone who wasn't too slow to learn her job, but decided to specialize in skin problems anyway. She spent some time actually talking to me me, learning my hygiene habits, and decided that there was something that everyone else had missed.
And she ordered a Biopsy. For the first time in five years, someone was taking my problem seriously.
The results from the lab (oh, did I mention the allergy tests they did on my back? I know I did a couple of years ago) were that it was not an allergy nor eczema, but Psoriasis. I still don't know what that is, but is was restricted to my hands and I was grateful for that.
And then, out of the blue, the Dermatologist asked: "Have you ever considered Grenz Ray Therapy?"
Funny, even the references on the Internet don't seem to understand it. What it is, is NOT "Black Light", but very low voltage X-ray exposure to the affected areas.
Treatment involves me sitting down, placing my hands a flat surface, and staying still while the Dermatologist focuses an X-ray machine on the back of my hands for one minute. Then I turn my hands over and get another one-minute dose. And then I go home, after paying more for that 2-minute treatment than I use to earn as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant in a typical month in VietNam. (Thank you for Medicare!)
Here's the punch-line: It Works!
I started out taking treatments every 2 weeks. Now I'm on a 2-month interval, which is ultimately less expensive than the ointments, unguents and other steroid-based potions that other "medical professionals" had been prescribing for me .. such as Clobetasol.
(IT turns out that one of the side effects of these 'ointments' is that your skin thins, and often can slough off with the merest bit of friction .. such as sticking your hands into the pockets of your jeans, which was part of the worst periods of whatever you may call it. I call it an infliction of self-torture.)
I've talked about this before, and I've had people reply by asking "Hey, if you ever find an effective treatment, let me know please? I've had this for years, and nothing seems to work."
So I'm not the only one.
I may be a Whiner, but this is something that affects over one percent of American Society. And yes, I made that statistic up .. it seems to be the thing to do on the Internet.
For those folks who have the same or a similar problem --- give it a try. It may not work for you, but it certainly has made my life a whole lot less painful.
And now I can shoot a pistol without wearing gloves, because it use to rip the skin right off my hands.
Of course, I'm still a lousy shot. It will take more than X-rays to fix that. Maybe I should practice more?