I have been fighting Grover’s Disease since I was first diagnosed with it in 2012. So, this is now year number 10. Follow the links below to see some of the my history of dealing with this skin rash.
Basically, this is a condition where the skin has a rash made up of red spots that can become extremely itchy at times. There is no known cause. There is no known cure. There is not much known about it because there very little research is being done since it is considered a rare disease and not life-threatening. Typically, it appears in Caucasian men over 60, though it can also affect some women too. It may last for months, disappear, and come back again years later. This has been my experience. Or if you are lucky, you have it for a few months and it disappears for good.
To recap, the NIH (National Institute of Health) provides this summary: “Grover’s disease is a skin condition that causes the appearance of small, red spots. These spots usually develop on the chest or back, but may also form on other parts of the body. This condition frequently leads to intense itching, although it may cause no symptoms. Most cases last six to twelve months. Occasionally, this condition may persist for longer periods, or it may come and go over time. The exact cause is unknown; however, a number of factors may cause or worsen the condition including heat and sweating. While there is no cure for Grover’s disease, there may be ways to manage the condition, such as avoidance of factors that worsen symptoms, moisturizers, and topical corticosteroids.”
Dermatologists can only treat the symptoms, since they do not know the cause. So if you go to the doctor, they will typically prescribe anti-itch medications like steroids or cortisone. These may help a little. But most likely, these will provide minimal relief.
I have tried everything, from conventional prescription and non-prescription over-the-counter remedies, to even Chinese medicine. The Chinese medicine was the most interesting. The doctor provides you with a box of mixed herbs at a ridiculous price. (When you can’t sleep and are desperate, you’ll try anything.) The herbs smelled horribly. You are directed to brew them into a tea. Other than smelling up our house, the tea did little for the itching. However, my dermatologist suggested that instead of drinking the herbs as a tea, that I should apply the boiled mess (after cooling a bit) directly to my skin. This seemed to help a little. Possibly this was from the heat or maybe it was from the herbs themselves.
However, this Chinese herbal treatment gave me an idea. Instead of using the Chinese herbs, I tried applying some powdered seaweed directly to my skin while taking a very hot shower. The hot water seems to deaden the nerves in the skin for a few hours and at the same time open up the pores. The seaweed powder is applied to the site of the rash for a few minutes, then washed off with hot water. This will sting a bit because of the salt content in the seaweed powder hitting the open sores. However, the stinging feels good. I can usually get 6 to 8 hours of relief from itching by using the seaweed. The red spots don’t necessarily go away. But at least it helps me get through my day. Repeating this at night helps with sleep.
So welcome to my world, year #10 with Grovers. I will be taking a lot of seaweed showers until this rash goes away …. again.