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13 March 2009 @ 12:55 pm
A Story About Ickey - How to Help Dry, Itchy, Flaky Skin  

When I started taking Tori in for Red Light Therapy, I talked to one of the vet techs about an Eclectus boy named Ickey who was a severe feather-puller and mutilator that was often there. This was a couple years ago. I recently reconnected with Ickey because it turned out that he was now seeing the same veterinarian that I take my boys to, who is truly an amazing and knowledgeable woman whom I feel lucky to have come across. I was very surprised that the networks and connections are so tight and small when it comes to Eclectus and at the same time even more surprised with how many people near me actually own Eclectus as Icky is not the only one that comes in to see her. My vet also owns an SI boy herself which is what made me come to her in the first place.

Anyway, I had never actually seen Ickey before. When my boyfriend was at the vet's with the cat somehow he had run into Ickey's owner and mentioned that we have Eclectus too and she had given him her phone number for me to call so she could ask me some questions to help her with Ickey. And only about a month ago I realized that he was there with his owner while I was there after I heard his name and I walked over and introduced myself. This was the first time I laid eyes on Ickey. I was so surprised by what I saw that for a moment I was almost speechless. This poor bird's entire body was bare and he only had a few flight feathers on his wings left. Not only this, but his skin was rock hard and purple and it was peeling and scaling off him like dead, dry flesh. He had a chewed through collar on his neck and was working on beak-scratching the back of his shoulder that it seemed he was under a spell of some sort. Nothing could deter him from scratching, peeling at that purple, thick, dead skin.

It was then that his owner asked me if I've seen skin do that before while Icky perched on the veterinarian's arm and crazy-scratched. I told her that a bird's feathers are its primary source of circulation and oil distribution. When their folicles shut down and become inactive, their skin becomes more susceptible to severe dryness and peeling as they don't have sweat glands to simply help them moisturize. I also mentioned that lack of circulation since his folicles are dead might have been a severe contribution to his skin essentially dying because of overdryness and non-stimulation. I peeked under his wing (he let me touch him without a problem) and saw the same scarring and sores that Tori had, had when I took her in for Red Light therapy which helped her heal with amazing results. Truly, I had never seen an Eclectus (or any parrot) with as severe skin issues as Icky.

Time and again I get contacted or asked about the issue of dry skin with the Eclectus. It seems that because their feathers are rather different (they lack the dander and style of feather that most parrots have) they are susceptible to overdrying, especially if they have a problem with chewing feathers or pulling them out. Below I have a few recommendations on how to possibly ease the suffering of a dry-skinned Ekkie in various stages of plucking/skin conditions. I hope that it helps.

- My number one suggestion for Eclectus who are exhibiting severe dry skin and have a few to no feathers left is NOT to use any type of Aloe product topically for any extended period of time. Aloe (even distilled aloe) is great for burns, wounds or temporary itch/burn relief, however it is extremely drying to the skin over prolonged use and actually depletes the skin of its nutrients which directly results in even more severely aggravated skin and more plucking/mutilating/scratching.

- For Eclectus who are fuzzy and with a good deal of feathers as well as those who are fully feathered, I recommend spritzing with filtered or distilled water only as regular tap water can be severely drying and contribute to further scratching and picking.

- For any Eclectus, with or without feathers, I recommend a dietary supplement that will help replenish the production of natural oils as well as assist in creation of Vitamin A which the Eclectus are very reliant upon for healthy digestion and natural oil production. I currently use the AviX Sunshine Factor (which I purchase directly at my vet's office). It is a Red Palm FRUIT oil extract which is a precursor to the production of Vitamin A. There are other supplements also available that do this exact same thing but be careful to make sure that they come from the FRUIT of the Red Palm instead of other, secondary parts.

- For Eclectus in general, I recommend adding a humidifier. The Land of Vos suggests the Slant Fin GF-350 Germ-Free Warm Mist Humidifier which has a virtually germ free mist by the assistance of UV light. I use the Honeywell Tower which also uses UV light.

- Full spectrum lighting. Parrots, in general, benefit from the full benefits of the sun's natural rays. Taking them inside, into cages and behind glass windows, removes that benefit and inhibits the Vitamin D reproduction process and results in dull, dry, brittle plummage. I purchase full-spectrum bulbs here: Natural Lighting . Com and I am very happy with their Vita-Lite Spiralux 26 watt bulbs. It is always good to get the highest wattage available for maximum light production.

- Red Light therapy. This is a very effective method in healing cracked, sore, mutilated, dry, peeling skin. I took Tori for these painless, brief treatments when she developed sores under her wings that would not heal. She was *completely* healed with six treatments @ 2 treatments per week. Red Light regenerates DNA and restores the skin's natural healing ability. What happens is they hold this little device, almost like a thick remote control and it has a circle of red lights that is pointed at the affected area, about 6 inches away. It is held constantly and the devide pulses through various watts of light at the area for five to seven minutes straight. The feeling is of warmth and it relaxed Tori greatly. She actually stood there for 10-15 minutes allowing me to hold her wing up while this light was applied to her skin. I could not believe the near miraculous results and only wish I would have taken photos as proof. Her skin after the therapy was pink, vibrant, healed and without scarring.
Here are links for further research.
http://www.warplighttherapy.com/WARP10_Resources.htm http://www.warplighttherapy.com/PDFs/670nm.pdf http://www.warplighttherapy.com/PDFs/MitochondrionEellsWongWhelan.pdf

- I'd also like to straighten out the issue of frequent showering when the Eclectus exhibits signs of dry, itchy, flaky skin and overpreens. Increasing the number of showers actually has the opposite effect on dry skin. Water is extremely drying (ask any decent dermatologist) and simply depletes the skin of its natural oils and moisture. I propose that showering less frequently is actually a better way to help the Eclectus restore their natural moisture. I think steam showers (simply letting your Ekkie sit in the steam of the shower with you but not get under the water) is much better for increasing respiratory clearness and absorbtion of humidity into their skin. For an Ekkie with the type of skin that Ickey has, showering has the potential to add to the discomfort, especially when their skin is so raw and aggravated. When in fact you are giving your Ekkie a shower, using filtered water is essential. Hard, tap water is not even good for us humans, let alone our super-sensitive Ekkie pals.

- Never, ever, ever put any commercial lotion, moisturizer, creme or salve on any part of the feathers or skin. If your veterinarian feels that a topical salve is needed, they will prescribe a medical one. Commercial lotions and moisturizers have perfumes, chemicals, additives, water and a plethora of other additives that seriously aggravate the Eclectus skin. I speak from experience here though I am seriously ashamed to admit it. Back when Tori first started plucking, I thought putting some lotion on her shoulders would help. She ripped those feathers out so fast I almost died. I cannot tell you how moronic I feel for even doing that.

- Feeding foods that are beneficial to Eclectus (like leafy greens and high-fiber mixes) assist their bodies in producing natural elements and nutrients that condition their skin and feathers. I do not believe that pellets of any kind have the ability to do that. Therefore I recommend a natural, well-balanced, nutritious, fresh, healthy diet. I have some recipies posted in a previous entry and I'd love to hear from others on their special recipies for their Ekkies.

- For severe cases, like Icky, I recommend talking to your vet about the benefits of anti-inflammatory medication. In retrospect, this is what I should have done with Tori. It only makes sense that as more scratching and beaking at the skin goes on, the more inflamed and aggravated it gets. Perhaps the use of an anti-inflammatory medication might offer some relief from the pain, itch and aggravation.

- Sprays such as calendula and chickweed, in my humble opinion, can be used for spot treatment of cuts, scrapes, burns and sores. I don't think that the Ekkie would be completely tolerant of this foreign spray on their skin. In fact, any ointments that come in spray form, I believe, should be used on fully fuzzy or feathered Eclectus versus in direct contact with the skin.

- Saline soak. Talk to your veterinarian about saline soaking for underwing sores or open skin. I had a brief discussion with the creator of the Avian Collar who is also a veterinarian about the benefits of saline in helping aid skin condition. I am not fully educated on this therefore I cannot say whether it is a good proposal or not, but it's worth a shot to ask about.

- Food allergies have been proven to be a direct cause of featherpulling and skin issues. By attempting the elimination diet (where you go down to the very benign basics then work your way up on a biweekly basis in adding certain foods to figure out what could be triggering the behavior) you can find out which specific food is aggravating the bird. Please glance to a previous post for a list of foods most commonly sighted as aggressors.

These are just the few suggestions off the top of my head. I am sure there are more and that some of you have experienced your own ways to help your Ekkie's dry, inflamed, scaly skin. I'd love to hear from you to add to this list.

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