Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pre-TSW + Month 2 Symptoms

Standard

 maple-sap

Oozing – Many TSW patients have areas around their body that ooze fluids, often appearing yellow and hardening to a yellow crust. Dr. Rapaport describes this as the excess plasma expelling from the body, formed during the accumulation of steroid build-up and is a part of detoxifying process from steroids. I have oozing above and below my mouth area, around my ears, in my ears and parts of my neck. Oozing occurs where my skin is raw and thickened. The area around my mouth where the oozing occurs was diagnosed with a non-resistant staph aureus infection and was prescribed numerous antibiotics over 8 months, including Bactroban which is a very potent antibiotic. This lack of success with antibiotics for a non-resistant staph tells me that what I’m dealing with is not staph. I treat this by using my home-made astringent made of witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil – 7 parts witch hazel, 2.9 parts ACV, 0.1 parts tea tree oil. If I don’t use the astringent regularly, the ooze returns.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the oozing is plasma rather than staph for a few reasons:

1 – The oozing is very localized and has not infected other parts of my face when I accidentally touched the ooze and other parts of my open-sore body consequently without sanitizing my hands in between.

2 -I saw no sustained improvement with the use of antibiotics meant to eradicate staph infection. If there’s one thing I learned from House, the health issue can be determined with the correct or incorrect medication.

3 – Dr. Rapaport’s professional opinion that plasma will appear and be diagnosed as staph by a doctor as the diagnostic method cannot distinguish between plasma and staph. This is probably because staph is a naturally occurring bacteria that lives on the skin.

4 – I don’t experience itching from the ooze, which is common with a staph infection.

Although I officially begun TSW this January 2013, I’ve been oozing off and on for the last year. I believe that this is the case because I’ve been intermittently withdrawing during my non-use of steroids. It always got a bit better during use, but went downhill soon after.

I experience oozing very mildly relative to other TSW’ers. Some have to wrap a cloth around their neck overnight to soak up the ooze. I’ve read that some ooze so uncontrollably that you can smell it and must keep towels/cloths around them at all times to keep clean. This is the case for very long-term TS users.

Hot and Cold

Irregular Body Temperature – I experience this sometimes. It’s difficult to predict when it will happen. If it’s on the warm side, I will heat up very rapidly. The reverse is true aswell; if it’s a touch too cool, I feel too cold. I’ve read about more extreme experiences from others, like they get so cold that they have to layer multiple blankets to warm up. Irregular body temperature is most noticeable at bedtime. A blanket warms me up too much and makes me sweat; no blanket leaves me uncomfortably chilly. This can keep me up all night.

Many TSW sufferers experience phases of coldness and sweating. This has to do with the adrenal glands recalibrating itself, or re-learning how to produce cortisol. Remember that applying topical steroids leads to a dependency of the high levels of cortisol seeping into your bloodstream. Because the body is receiving cortisol without the effort of its own self-sufficient production, it becomes lazy and forgets how to produce its own cortisol. Kind of like when you mom do the laundry for you; you don’t bother checking if there’s any dirty laundry or not because you assume she’ll do it for you. When you’ve withdrawn from topical steroids, your adrenals go into shock because it has forgotten how to produce its own cortisol. Because the adrenals are so closely linked to body temperature, our bodies are also re-learning how to regulate body temperature.

snow flakes

Flaking – I experience flaking all over my body – face, arms, back, scalp… It occurs when I’ve scratched, except on my scalp where it flakes on its own. I need to exfoliate these flakes in the bath/shower regularly. Otherwise I get itchy as it feels like my skin can’t breathe well. Many complain about flakes “flying around” them on a regular basis, which isn’t the case for me. The flakes come off either in the bath with a terry cloth or when I’m scratching. They’re not flat but more round and gritty. Seeing and feeling these buggers on the bed or elsewhere is distressing and makes me feel icky about my skin.

After exfoliating, the skin underneath is pretty soft and ready to absorb moisturizer. My issue is that moisturizer takes FOREVER to sink into my skin. I stand around in front of a fan for as long as it takes (30-40 min) to soothe my skin after moisturizing and assist the skin in absorbing, while messaging it all in. Flaking is a result of the extreme dryness that we TSW’ers experience. I like to think of it as a facial peel. Every time we peel, there’s new skin awaiting underneath. See “Dryness” below.

swollen

Swelling – Current swelling is minimal, mostly in and around knees. My face (i.e. cheeks) were swelled up the latter part of 2012 and long before. One side of my face was more swollen than the other, which has swelled down since then. Remember I’ve been using potent TS for the last few years intermittently, which means I would’ve undergone withdrawal symptoms during times of non-use. I think that this is the most interesting point about steroid-induced eczema: we are constantly but intermittently going through withdrawal in between the times we were/are using steroids. Just because we didn’t have a clue or aren’t in a total conscientious withdrawal, doesn’t mean we don’t withdraw during these short periods of time. I perceived these times as just plain ol’ eczema. There’s no reason that we wouldn’t be withdrawing during these times. If we’re following the prescribed 1-2 weeks of steroids per month, then we’re most definitely withdrawing the other 3-4 weeks we’re not using it. The swelling is from the inflammation, as well as the build up of plasma.

itchy dog

Intense Itching – Month 1 of withdrawal, I experienced to-the-bone itching. I couldn’t help myself but scratch to the point of bruising my body and seeing blood.  I’m nearing the end of month 2 and the itching has since improved. It’s more superficial, on the surface and happens at any time. It’s itchy when I’m moisturized, when I’m in the bath, when I’m drier. I experience what TSW’ers call “Pins ‘n Needles” itching where the itches are a sharp and short sensation. I sometimes jump when these shocking sensations happen. The itching is said to be the blood vessels healing and expelling the TS. This is my worst symptom because itching drives me absolutely bonkers. I easily lose focus and frankly I itch almost all the time, so you can imagine having a conversation with someone who’s only half listening… or a quarter listening.

thicken

Linchification – Meaning “thickening of the skin.” This seems to occur where the skin has experienced the most rubbing and scratching. For me, I have it on several areas. I have it on my abdomen right above my groin where my jeans rub against the skin. I also have it on my inner biceps right by my armpits; on my jawline; and on my wrists. The thickened skin on my jawline also oozes. Last month, all these areas had a hard, shiny and smooth appearance, like plastic. Pretty off-putting but hey. Linchification also means deep fissures in the skin, which looks like deep valleys in the natural landscape of the skin. The fissures occur where there the skin naturally folds, such as behind the elbows or folds where you have rolls on the stomach – sexy! I also get them in places where there aren’t any natural folds, like above the groin and below the abs.

sleepless

Even counting sheep got tiring for the sheep, lol

Difficulty Sleeping – See all other symptoms. They will keep you up! My sleeping patterns are all over the place. Sometimes I’m able to sleep throughout the night, although most nights I have a hard time trying to get comfortable. I’m either too warm or too cold. My skin is too wet from moisturizing or too dry from not moisturizing enough. I’m too itchy, too fidgety. Too on the edge. As a result, my sleep is very broken, waking up every couple hours. Taking antihistamines seems to be a necessity despite my efforts to avoid them. I seem to sleep better at my boyfriend’s and I think this has to do with my psychological state at home in my own bed where my thoughts are darkest. My room is very cluttered, messy and disorganized. Somehow improving your room with lighting or colour or de-cluttering might help you calm down.

desert

Dry as a desert

Dryness – This might be an obvious one, but it has to be said because it is a huge part of TSW. My skin is extremely dry. It hurts often, especially when turning or moving around. I can really feel the skin struggling to stretch when I move about. It’s a very strange feeling and probably makes me feel the most out-of-touch with my skin because the dryness makes it feel like non-skin, and more like there’s something just sitting on top of my body to protect it. Ew. The worst part is my neck because it feels uncomfortable whenever I turn my head.

According to Dr. Rapaport, the dryness is caused by the dysfunction of the adrenal glands. Apparently, the adrenals are responsible for a whole lot of things! Again, the hypo-cortisol state is responsible for the dysfunction of basic things in our bodies. The adrenals are responsible for manufacturing oil through our sebaceous glands in our pores. Hey Adrenals, get moving already!

hair loss

Jesse from Full House

Hair Loss – This seems to be a common symptom of TSW. Like some of my other symptoms, I’ve been experiencing this one over the course of  my intensive steroid use these last 3 years. (I have been using Clobestol the last 6, but have been using it heavily only the last 3 years). It has been especially noticeable Summer 2010-Spring 2011 and again all of 2012-2013. I’ve lost a 1/3 of my hair on my head to date, and 2/3 of my hair… ahem well, down there. I’ve had blood tests checking for possible reason for this hair loss without any indicators. My hairline has receded quite a bit, although I see baby hairs growing back already! Dr. Rapaport assures us that the hair will re-grow as we outgrow TSW.  Horrah!

I haven’t read anything specifically on how the adrenals or TSW affect hair, but my best educated guess is that hair needs healthy skin for growth support. And well, us Red-Skinners just don’t have that…  yet!

Edit (April 27): Was looking at photos of myself from a few years back and realized that I’ve lost much more than 1/3 of my hair. I really had a full head of hair! I believe that it’s probably closer to 40-50% of hair that I’ve lost, rather than 30%. Will be taking photos of my hair progress as well now! See this more recent blog post to see how steroid addiction does affect hair growth negatively. Amazing difference.

Thoughts. My symptoms have been relatively mild this month, though it has kept me at home for the most part. I’ve turned even more into a hermit as I’ve been uncomfortable literally in my own skin. Some of these symptoms were present prior to complete withdrawal and I am not under any delusions my skin will be perfectly functional after TSW. The reality is that I will know what the true nature of my eczema is only after TSW. It seems as though withdrawal takes a very long time so it will be awhile until I will see dramatic improvement.

Some people who are TSW doubt that they have/had STA (topical steroid addiction) because their symptoms are so mild. I feel confident that I am experiencing withdrawal, even in a mild form. TSA/TSW explains the symptoms I’ve been having, which is unique from the “eczema” I was experiencing last year when I still intermittently on TS.

Although the #1 rule is to avoid giving yourself a time frame, I’m giving myself 1.5 year which is generous. Two years until I can be sure.  Many people see sustained improvement for a few months and then go through a flare, which is thought to be one last push by the body to detox. Although my symptoms are currently mild, I am preparing myself for the possibility of a bumpy ride down the road. Which reminds me of this song I was obsessed with in grade school… Bumpy Ride – by Robyn (1996)

Bath Time & Regulating Body Temperature

Standard

I’m really starting to get why fellow Red-Skinners love their bath time. I personally hated it because it’s when I feel the most lonely and nutty. All of my skin is exposed for me to see. As someone who avoids her reflection, bathing is a dispiriting task. Tonight, however, I have intentions to replace my bed with the bathtub. I’ve spent a short 11 hours sleeping during the last two days as a result of issues with regulating my body temperature. My arms and the “thick” parts of my body (trunk, lower back, upper thighs, bum) sweat and overheat, making my skin irritated and flared. This heat contrasts with the rest of my body, like my feet, legs and inner core. Confusing! This overheating is causing itching sensations throughout the night, leaving me very restless.

Image

An earthy woody bathroom I wouldn’t mind bathing in!

The overheating occurs where my skin meets the mattress, as that skin loses its ability to ventilate and sweats/heats as a result. I’ve tried several things to resolve this current issue: 1) Using a light flat sheet  2) Keeping the room temperature moderate (not too high or too low)  3) Running an electrical fan to get more air flow into the room  4) Apply baby powder on the problem areas to absorb sweat and comfort skin.

Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful. So the only other bright idea I have is to sleep in a tub full of water, as to not have my skin sweat. I’ve slept in the bath before but only 2-3 hours at a time. A full 7-8 hours is worrying. I’m not sure how that would effect my skin afterwards. I usually throw in 1/2 cup of Epsom salt with a dash of Tea Tree oil and Grapeseed oil. How will the salts affect me?

I read somewhere on the ITSAN forums that Dr. Marvin Rapaport encourages salt baths for healing. Does anyone have experiences with salt baths this lengthy? I realize that I won’t be receiving comments by tonight, but they are welcome and I will consider what you have to say. I just need a quick fix. I’m way too bloody tired to be overly cautious today. Boyfriend grabbed me a bath pillow on his way back from work, so I will be using that to tonight keep me comfy. He’s great 🙂

vintage-clawfoot-bathtub-by-window-jill-battaglia

A hazy bath. (Jill Battaglia)

Overall Skin Update: Incessant itch all night as discussed above. Face is showing slow improvement, though I can finally full-out smile without feeling like I’m stretching my skin; still lots to go however.

Declawed myself by filing my nails down to avoid unnecessary damage. Frustrating when I’m trying to scratch because I can’t relieve myself, but glad I done it.

The impetigo/perioral dermatitis around my mouth has improved a lot through the use of natural methods (apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil) rather than the number of antibiotics I’ve been prescribed for the 8 months. Possible upcoming blog entry on the perioral issues.

Thank you for reading and comment on your current bath routine.

 

 

 

Edit: Trying to fall asleep in the bathtub was unsuccessful. The bath pillow just didn’t cut it for me. Also, I read a comment by eczemancipated on the ITSAN forums that mentioned the importance of rinsing off after using Epsom salts as it effects body temperature. Since then, I’ve made sure to rinse off well and whaddyaknowit, it made all the difference! My back, groin, etc. no longer sweat or heat up as much as it was. Sleep is better as a result, although still not where I need it to be. REMEMBER TO RINSE OFF AFTER EPSOM SALTS, PEOPLE! (02/27/2013)

 

Face, why you so red?

Standard
Image

This was my face back in September. I had just finished a week of Clobestol on my body. (Sept 2012)

So before I officially began my TSW journey, I went through a strange time in the latter portion of last year. I say “officially” because I was unaware of steroid addiction, and I would go back on steroids one more time, thinking it would help me. My face was extremely dry, red, hot, oozing and scaly. I thought that this was my eczema progressing even further. Looking back, I reckon it was RSS (Red Skin Syndrome).

I dropped lots of money on a Naturopath (who ended up being fraudulent, but that’s a whole other story) thinking my eczema was the result of Candida, food allergies, high testosterone and all sorts of things the supposed Naturopath claimed. I went on an Anti-Candida diet and used the prescribed supplements for a month without success in regards to my skin, although I shed a few unwanted pounds. After realizing my naivety, I spent hours, days, weeks researching for the answer.

I don’t see a point in going to my new (and certified this time) naturopath for my skin issues.  There is no way to differentiate between the withdrawal symptoms and any improvements her treatments would offer. If I haven’t recovered after, say, 18 months of withdrawal, then I will go to her for help. Spending the money in hopes of improving my RSS is a dim idea. The best I can do for myself is eat healthily and keep as sane as possible.

Image

I woke up with new flakes every morning. – Leizel Lizard

Anywho, back to my story of how I found out about TSW. Although the Clobestol would smooth out my skin from rash oblivion, the “eczema” always came back worse than it was before. December 2012, I was bruised from aggressive scratching and itchy to the bone. I gave the Clobestol one more go for 10 days. Again, smoothed things out but was so itchy I couldn’t help myself. Then came my first month of complete withdrawal. See my previous post for details. Somehow I learned about Steroid Addiction and TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal online while doing my daily research. It was an “a-ha!” moment. My skin experiences with scaling, oozing, redness, hotness, hair loss could be explained by TSW. Occam’s Razor tells us that the simplest explanation is the correct one. Thank you, Mr. Occam, for that one!

Now on Week 8, the itch has reduced from to-the-bone itching to more superficial, pins and needles itching. My arms are the worst area that itches. I’ve read that this is the same with many. My trunk and back, as well as my inner thighs seems to sweat at night leading to itching. I try sleeping without a blanket, but I get too cold. So I end up choosing being too warm and sweaty so I can fall asleep.

My face is getting better. Thank the gods! I initially had scaling on the sides of my face and cheeks back in Sept/Oct 2012, which has recovered. My problem area has shifted to the jawline where the skin had hardened and oozed. I stopped scrubbing my skin too much and let the crust kind of stay on, but gently removing what I can.

The photos above where taken in Sept/Oct 2012. My face was very hot and red on my cheek and temple area. It would scale like crazy throughout the day and was most noticeable in the morning upon waking. I scrubbed those scales off and underneath was the hot and red skin. The raw skin looked strange, like a matrix of cracked skin. The cracks were lighter, almost white, which contrasted from the red skin. Those areas have recovered since then. No more scaling or extreme redness and hotness in that area. Symptoms on my face have developed along the jawline where it is hardened and oozing with crusts. It has improved in the last few days since I decided to stop scrubbing it and start rubbing it off gently in the bath. I message cleanser and a bit of castor oil into my skin to soften it, rinse. After this, I can run my hands over the skin and small rolls of dry skin come off. This method is more effective for me than using an exfoliating scrub because it is less irritating (less redness and hot) and takes more dry skin from the surface more evenly. When I use scrubs, my face only gets hot and red, and my face is left with unsmoothed flakes clinging to my face. My jawline is less bruised and less oozy in a matter of days from just allowing my skin to crust over and not scrubbing it aggressively. Try it! I reckon that the crust sort of functions as your skin’s natural band-aid. And it’s made a great difference. Fingers crossed!

Photo on 2011-11-09 at 13.29 #2

Once TSW is over, regaining my self-confidence and well… LIFE back is something I look forward to. I pray that I can come out of this with a lesson rather than despising that it ever existed. My tendency to want to erase every mistake, minor or otherwise, and start anew is something I’ve always done. So you hated how my entire first year of art projects went ? Leizel Lizard copes by throwing all those paintings and sculptures out. This is something I regret now because I actually did a good job on some of those projects despite my prof’s grading!

To disqualify TSW as a write-off would be unfortunate. It might not happen right away, but I think experiencing my body in this state will give me some well-rounded perspective. Eczema and/or steroid-induced eczema has taught me to become extremely self-absorbed. ensuring that I monitor any minor changes in my appearance, especially my face. I miss having soft, supple, dewy skin as seen in the photo the the right. At that time (2 years ago), I was concerned with cystic acne, which is in hindsight a joke. It makes me appreciate the zits I now get on my face from over-moisturizing with heavy oils and Vaseline, as if somehow zits are an indicator of normal skin. What a world I live in where zits are desired. Wait ’til I go back in time and tell my 16 year old self about that!

My Next Year

Standard

I’m wondering how I can optimize my time for the next year, the length of estimated time for withdrawal to take. I’m a 26-year-old English Language and Literature uni dropout. My plans to go into teaching are demolished by the mouthfuls of stories I’ve heard and statistically-sound articles telling me how nonviable going into a teaching career is, at least here in Canada. Not having any kind of degree and living with my mom at 26 is not where I envisioned myself. Being “sick” makes it difficult to put my next pending career steps into motion. I barely have desire to leave the house to walk Dexter, my Beagle. I have zero motivation to get a job at the mall with my icky, ozzy face. Ideally, I would stay in my room cave until my withdrawal symptoms dissipate and not deal with the unpleasant feelings of being in public.

I need to pay my phone bill, student loans and so on. Part of me just doesn’t want to care about that and live off of whatever money I can scavenge. That would be irresponsible, Leizel, and you’d feel crappy about being unproductive in the end. I’m not sure how to muster the energy to go into a classroom or spend a few hours selling over-priced retail goods. How – when it hurts to smile or turn my head or keep the ooze from oozing or the itch from itching? HOW?

I understand why I should stay home for the next year. I perfectly understand. It’s explaining it those around me that would be a challenge. Reducing myself to justifying the feelings and symptoms I’m experiencing is the hard part. They’d look at my unusually dry skin and wonder why a year-long break from life would be necessary. We all have our issues, don’t we? Explaining what the itch is like alone is brain numbing – similar to explaining Dexter how to bring my slippers to me when I get home. The chicken pox comparison is the best I’ve got. “It’s a deep down, to-the-bone itch ever-present when you’re talking to someone, writing an essay, trying to shower.” Like a fellow blogger put it, itching is the most petty symptom of this monster to outsiders. You really don’t understand what itch is unless you have it. It wakes you up. Keeps you up. Disrupts your focus on your boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) words. Of course, there’s the oozing, scaling, shivers, heart rate changes, et cetera. It’s more than just a bad skin day. It consumes me.

The bad skin infection on my face that I experienced in October 2012 is still very disturbing. No, it was traumatizing. There’s something about the image of hard-yellow crusts forming on your face that affects the way you feel about your body. My worldly, vulnerable, mortal body diseased. October 2012 is past, but the vulnerability I experienced lingers.

So, you can see how slugging my lizard self into the mall for work would be extremely difficult. The only time I go is with my 6-foot-tall boyfriend, whom I can use as a moving shield in case of that avoidable awkward encounter. Maybe if my face wasn’t so bad… But the oozing, thickened skin is just too much for me to handle.

People certainly treat you differently. I’m not saying I was hot stuff before this all happened, but I would say I was a fairly decent-looking individual. I could strike up conversation with pretty much anyone with positive responses. Since then, strangers react to my sporadic conversing much differently to my lizard self. I’ve stopped trying after not getting any responses at all. The only place I feel safe is here in my room where I can go on in peace. I’m optimistic about the duration of my withdrawal. I’m hoping a year, MAYBE a year and a half at most. Even that seems like a lifetime from now. I’ll be 28 by then; I’m 26 and a half now. A large portion of my twenties thus far has been taken over by my skin issues. Sorry if I’m feeling like I’m watching my youth pass me by. On the bright side, I still get carded at the liquor store and former co-workers think I’m in my early twenties, so by the end of this, I’ll be right where I left off.

History + First Month of TSW

Standard

I am so tired today and not sure why ’cause I slept a good 9 hours. I wonder if it’s the stress. I’ve had days where I feel optimistic, then I’ll take a bath and I go scratch-crazy and feel like my world is upside down. My brain feels foggy and I’ve been wanting to write a solid blog post, but I feel like I could fall asleep right this very second if my head just rested more horizontally on this pillow…

So I’ll give you a bit of history of my eczema slash steroid past, in an effort to keep myself awake and do what I made myself to do today. I’ve had eczema for quite some time now – since I age 6. Nothing serious by any means. My mom kept a small tube of hydrocortisone in the cupboard that she’d take out every once in a while. I had and still have environmental allergies at the time (cats, dust, pollen) but was too young to remember if my flareups were connected to those allergens. Either way, my skin really didn’t bother me at all when I was very young. As a teenager, my legs and arms suffered from intense scratching during the humid summers.. My eyelids we red and itchy and used mild TS (topical steroid), but it never really made it better.

By age 17, I was introduced to Clobestol, the most potent TS, by a random Vietnamese lady who ran a salon in her basement when she noticed some rashes on my arm while she was doing a facial on me. She showed it to me like it was the answer to all my itching, rashy issues, and told me that doctors are very hesitant to give it to patients because it is very strong, but it has made her friend’s daughter’s someone’s eczema disappear “forever.” It seemed simple and I took it. No questions asked.

I used the Clobestol sparingly off and on. I used it on my neck, eyelids, arms for weeks at a time. It made it go away, but only temporarily and it would always recur soon again. I figured that this was just the nature of eczema and there was nothing I could do about it.

Fast forward to 3 years ago (age 23) when I started sleeping over my boyfriend’s house where the combination of carpet and 2 cats awaited me. I didn’t clue in at first that I was actually reacting to my new environment when my body was itchy and my face was covered in these strange blistery things. I soon realized that the only thing that had changed was sleeping over his place. My diet was still the same. Stress was non-existant.

So I started using steroids and Protopic on my face to make the yucky rashes disappear. By the summer, the itching was uncontrollable and my body was covered in rashes and bruising. Since then, I’ve been using Clobestol off and on over the last 3 years. I noticed my skin going from very oily to very dry. I hated it at the time, but I truly miss my oily days. It’s comforting to think that I could even produce enough oil that blotting was an absolute necessity every half hour. I was so oily, your mom could fry your breakfast on my face.

Nevermind the zits the would ensue. I would take oily skin over dry any day. By last winter – 2 years into Clobestol use — I had been the driest yet and extremely sensitive, especially on my face and above my lip.

My decision to undergo steroid withdrawal is based on the lack of success with steroids. November 2012 – I YouTube’d “Face Eczema” and watched this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfIz8ZBqg5o. I was going through what she was going through. Like her, going to my minimum wage retail job was difficult with an oozing, red face. I read comments about Red Skin Syndrome, although I didn’t take it seriously. I went on another round of Clobestol for 2.5 weeks before rethinking steroids. My skin cleared but was still extremely itchy, so as soon as I got off it, it was worse then ever. It was everywhere, everywhere and spread to new places.

I remembered what I read about Red Skin Syndrome and researched more about it. Everything started making sense to me – what I’ve been going through. The photos of withdrawal from steroid addiction sent tears down my eyes. The more and more I read, I realized that I’ve been going through withdrawal off and on for the last 3 years. The symptoms of withdrawal were very familiar – dry, flakey, deeply itching skin, hair loss, oozing.

My first month (January 2013) of complete withdrawal was hell. The itch in my body was insatiable. I scratched until I bled and it didn’t matter. Going to work was extremely difficult. My neck and face was oozing (and still is) so I kept my distance from co-workers. I could feel my body shivering ever so slightly and was always cold. I made sure I had clean turtlenecks to wear everyday. I used my mini breaks to moisturize my face although I knew my face would shrivel up an hour after. My skin was brittle. Soaking in water was painful. Moving was painful. I saw hair tangled around my fingers every time I’d wash. I wanted to lay in bed under a cover. Every moment hurt and thoughts of suicide were insistent.

Looking back, my skin was in a half decent before my first allergy flare at my boyfriend’s house 3 years ago. In fact, just before I met him, my eczema was a faded memory. No doubt I have skin allergies, but the true nature of my eczema can no longer be accurately measured since the side effects of steroids has tainted its original state. Plus, if this medication is meant to help me, then why have things only gone downhill since I started using it? Over the last year, I’ve tried to stop using TS but I always went back to it because things got worse after getting off it. Sometimes they say, “Things will get worse before they get better.” With steroids, it’s been more like, “Things get better-ish, then get worse.”

Welcome To My Blog

Standard

Hey Guys,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Leizel and I am a TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) blogger. I believe that it’s important to share my progress with others who are going through the same thing or who is considering TSW. Personally, seeing others’ progress through blogs is very helpful and encouraging for me. I will be blogging about my symptoms, skin products I’m using, treatments and diet and will include photo updates.

I have had eczema since age 6 and was using mild steroids for a long time but very infrequently and lightly. The last 3 years have been very steroid-dependent with 1% hydrocortisone and Clobestol Propionate, the strongest possible steroid available. The last 3 years have also been the worst skin I’ve experienced. It began when I started sleeping over my boyfriend’s house where there were 2 cats, to which I was very allergic. Still with the same boyfriend and an additional 2 cats in his home, it has only been downhill since then.

I am in my second month of withdrawal. Month #1 was horrible, but things have calmed down for now. There are no photos from month #1 unfortunately. In my defence, I was too preoccupied with what was happening to me. The itching was very deep and unbearable. I didn’t think I’d get a break. I expect my symptoms to worsen and improve in cycles like everyone else who is going through TSW. No matter how bad it gets, I need to get through it. There are so many people who have gotten through it and made it on the other side. Let’s march on with them!