Monday, October 25, 2010

Skin conditions of sea mammals

A question was brought up in class the other day by a fellow student that got me stumped. He asked if whales or dolphins could get eczema like land mammals do. Eczema is word that covers a very broad condition with a variety of skin irritations. Even dandruff is a form of eczema. While the class pondered the question, the instructor guided us on a discussion to try and figure out the answer.

Since all skin has the potential to become irritated then the answer would be yes whales and dolphins could have eczema. But since eczema was often characterized with dry patchy skin then maybe dolphins and whales could not get it, while seals and sea lions could. We also pondered if the eczema treatment would be salt water but only if the animal lived in the water 100% of the time. So for an animal not to have eczema we figured out that living in water may or may not have a bearing on the condition but the type of skin might. You see, whales and dolphins have a different type of skin than a seal does, so its personal biology would be a huge factor.

Our discussion was interesting but I still came away with more questions than answers.

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