Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24th Picture Update - Moisturizer Withdrawal Results

Here is my own anecdotal evidence that continuous moisturizing during topical steroid withdrawal greatly inhibits the healing process, and very likely prolongs the recovery period. It's not double blind study evidence. Just anecdotal evidence from my own experience. Others have experienced the same. In knowing this truth, you can save yourself a lot of suffering in your own tsw journey. I'm almost done with my own journey now. I stopped all steroids just a little over 6-1/2 months ago, and most symptoms are gone, with the exception of some steroid induced eczema on top of my hands. It doesn't bother me much as it's not an area where I applied topical steroids, and it "feels" like regular eczema for the most part. Just a minor irritant at most. It should be gone soon. My legs, arms, feet, head and face are now all completely free of all symptoms of topical steroid addiction or withdrawal.

Here is a brief summary of what has transpired since June when I decided to stop steroids due to them no longer working for me. I stopped using both topical and oral steroids on June 20th 2013, and after searching the web for answers, I stumbled across a tsw support group forum and immediately joined the group. The consensus of the veterans of that forum was to use moisturizers for movement and comfort while going through tsw. Many of these "vets" are highly intelligent people. But then so were the doctors who prescribed topical steroids to me for 20 years straight with no warnings as to the effects of long term use. As well as my last two Derms, one of which is considered one of the "top" Derms in the country. He insisted that I had "chronic eczema" and that I had to use steroids for the rest of my life! I can't wait to go see him, show him my hands, and give him a piece of my mind. At least an email and pics, but I have noticed it is nearly impossible to find his email addy. These people do a good job of keeping themselves well insulated from the public.

As a result of my lack of knowledge on the subject of tsw (similar to my lack of knowledge in the past about ts), I ended up slathering all kinds of moisturizers on my skin and making myself much more miserable than necessary early on for my first two months. Everybody on the forum moisturized. That was the consensus of the vets there, and most all of the members at the time.

Things are changing in spite of certain people bending over backwards in an effort to prove MW either doesn't work, or "it isn't for everybody". I personally found moisturizing the skin to be the opposite of what one should do during tsw. To be fair, the group has since made a small effort in allowing more discussion on various topics. They recently decided to create a separate board called “ Non Conventional Experimental Treatments” where everyone can post with regard to their own experimental treatments/cures. Please excuse me for a moment...

OK, I'm back :-)....  I didn't know there was a conventional treatment!

Unfortunately for me at the time, the forum was the only "support" forum on the subject of topical steroid addiction and withdrawal on the web in the English language. This was the central hub for information on tsw. But the information I came away with lead me to believe I should moisturize my skin to stay comfortable and mobile. That nothing can speed up tsw, and only the passage of time was the panacea. Many of the veterans there are still suffering badly after more than a year of being in tsw and I can understand why. I believe it's because of moisturizing, and a belief system that expects recovery to take years. Some have completed their tsw, but it took them a very long time.

Fortunately, I kept researching and figured out what I and others were doing wrong. However, by then my steroid induced eczema had spread pretty badly on one leg that I used moisturizers on, and worse, my hands were not getting any better! They were a disaster. Moisturizing only inhibited my skin from healing and contributed immensely to the most intense itching I have ever experienced. The palms of my hands and my fingers were my worst hit areas since that is where I used the bulk of the topical steroids. My skin barrier was completely destroyed in those areas, and my hands were so bad I couldn't tell at the time if the moisturizers were helping or hurting their progress. I don't have pictures from my first couple months, but imagine hands that are red, swollen, cracked, bleeding, hot, burning, itching, deep fissures on palms and fingers, multiple skin splits, cracks, etc. So bad I had difficulty holding a coffee cup for 3 months. Not that I actually tried to hold it for three straight months :). I basically had what I call "hamburger hands". Raw meat.

I also had large patches of steroid induced eczema on my legs and arms. Small patches on multiple other places on my body, like the feet, face and head. The only places I ever moisturized were my hands and my right leg and elbow. Both legs had the same amount of rash in the same place. The rash on the right leg and elbow where I moisturized spread twice as large during my first two months of tsw (while moisturizing). The left leg and elbow was already healing before I stopped moisturizing the right leg, elbow and my hands. The hands were just staying the same. Really bad.

Finally after tons of research on the web, and plenty of contemplation and reflection, I figured out the moisturizers were definitely keeping my skin from healing. So, I stopped using them altogether and after a couple weeks my hands and right leg and elbow started healing.  It has been a slow gradually healing since and I'm now almost completely healed. It's been 4-1/2 months since I quit moisturizing and those months have been a picnic compared to my first two months when I was using moisturizers.

The first 2-3 months were a living hell to put it mildly. I know they were much worse because of the moisturizers. I am a 58 year old who has lived a hard life and eats a crappy diet and have also smoked all my life. I truly feel if I had gone through this at an age under 30, it would have been a breeze comparatively. At my age, and with my lifestyle, one does not heal near as quickly as one does at half that age.

If you are new to tsw and are looking for information, be very careful of who you listen to. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can lead you down a path of more suffering than what is needed. Be sure to read information from as many sources as possible and make up your own mind. And be very wary of support forums that have rules that inhibit members from speaking their minds.

My gift to you is what I have recorded on my blog for the world to see. My own personal journey through tsa and tsw. Including a step by step guide on how to withdraw from moisturizers for those of you who made the same mistake early on that I made. On my blog you will find many links to studies on the effects of moisturizing, and many other helpful tips and informative articles. Some consider me a conspiracy theorist for my views on the medical establishment and healing. I'll let you decide that for yourself.

There are a few older veterans out there that will say things like moisturizer withdrawal isn't for everybody, MW isn't necessary, so and so did it by using moisturizers, etc. etc. Don't let these people confuse you. They are wrong. Moisturizer withdrawal IS for everybody. Think about it this way. You weren't born with a bottle of moisturizer in your hands were you? Nope. We are born with a body that has it's own innate ability to moisturize itself. Allow it to do just that and your journey won't be as hellish as it can be if you moisturize during tsw. Have a wonderful Holiday!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Six Month Topical Steroid Withdrawal Picture Update

It's been just a little over six months since I stopped using topical steroids now and my skin is healing very well, considering how bad it was in the beginning. I also had made the mistake of moisturizing the first two months of my topical steroid withdrawal, which I feel delayed my healing significantly. I feel I am about 90-95% healed now if taking all symptoms into account. For the last few weeks my skin has been about the same as these pictures show (even better at one point until a recent fare), but the zingers, pain, inflammation, and most itching is gone. All skin breaks have been healed for a couple months now except for a persistent split on my finger that heals and re-breaks when I work during the day. I still scratch at night in my sleep but my skin is so strong it no longer breaks when I scratch it. My ability to sleep has improved immensely. Tiny spots of steroid induced eczema on my nose, ears, chin, eyelid, and a couple other spots are completely healed and normal. I had huge patches of steroid induced eczema on my arms and legs and they are 99% healed and normal again. I had smaller patches on the tops of my feet, side of my hip, and others that are completely healed and normal skin.

The only skin symptoms I have left is on my hands where I used the heaviest amount of topical steroids (see pics). What you see on the back of my hands is completely steroid induced eczema and isn't bothersome anymore. I have never applied ts to those areas, but they gave me hell for the first 3-4 months anyway. The back of the hands rarely itches while I'm awake, but I occasionally rip into them in my sleep when they are almost completely healed and the dry scabs want to come off. Very similar to the way true eczema acts. The damage heals within 24 hours and those areas just don't really bother me. It's the one finger left where I have a split that comes and goes that still bothers me. There is still fungus under two of my nails bit it doesn't bother me. I am currently treating it with both tea tree oil and colloidal silver. I'm able to do most things I used to do with my hands, other than things that put a lot of pressure on my right palm, which coincidentally is the spot I initially started putting ts on my hands. It received the most ts compared to all other areas. The skin barrier was damaged so badly on that spot that I sometimes have my dw do certain things like open a new jar lid if I can't open it on the first try. It's still somewhat tender there when I use tools like pliers or screwdrivers as well. Anything that puts a lot of pressure on that spot. Needless to say, it's somewhat of an emasculating thing to go through. At least it's not like the first 3 months where she had to do everything and I couldn't do a damn thing with my hands (the first two months I was moisturizing and then the 3rd month transitioning to MW).

For me, I believe my MW worked as well as it did because I combined it with Dead Sea salt baths, and other things that I did. I feel the dss baths are responsible for all my steroid induced eczema disappearing, other than what's left on my hands. The combination of the baths and no moisturizing that is. I don't think the spots on my head and face in particular would have been healed so quickly if it weren't for the dss baths. I find it difficult to believe that MW alone would have accomplished that in such a short time. These areas have been healed for months now.
Also, I see many people complain on various blogs after a week of MW that they aren't seeing much of a difference. I didn't really see a noticeable difference until I was in MW for at least 10 days, and I had plenty of sun to help me when I did it. I was trying to heal all of my multiple skin splits and deep fissures that weren't healing due to being moisturized constantly and it worked like a charm. However, right after that, I made the mistake of trying a moisturizer again and had to do MW all over again. Moisturizing just one time sent me into a wicked flare, I suppose because my skin was still hypersensitive. The second MW went a lot easier and quicker than the first time because my skin was stronger and I hadn't moisturized but the one time. 

Don't expect to see great results in under two weeks on your first attempt if you have been in tsw for many months, and don't have multiple skin breaks and open wounds you want to heal, or you will be disappointed. For people who have been in tsw for a long time, and either want to do MW, or just started MW, it takes time for the transition, so be patient and you will be richly rewarded. It can take up to a month for the skin to adjust. Since many of you are saying you aren't seeing much of a difference either way, then you have nothing to lose by staying off the moisturizers for a few weeks and seeing what happens. But, be sure to compliment your MW process with the appropriate things if you really want it to work in the most effective way.

So, as everyone can see, MW worked extremely well for me. I have had a very comfortable journey since about month four and it isn't because I had a light case. MW can do the same for everyone. We're just that similar and have very similar problems with tsw. There really is nothing mysterious about topical steroid withdrawal after all!

Bear in mind that my skin isn't nearly as bad as these pics make it look. And, this was on a bad day a couple days ago. Today my hands look much better on the palms again. Very smooth and rash free again. Happy healing! Any and all comments welcome!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Guide to Withdrawing From Moisturizers

Below is a guest post by jsan describing her method of moisturizer withdrawal. It differs slightly from my own method, but both methods have been shown to work. She has gone through topical steroid withdrawal three times and is a true "vet" in every sense of the word. She has a good understanding of topical steroid addiction, withdrawal, and how to successfully do moisturizer withdrawal.

In my opinion all a person needs to do is:
1) leave the skin alone, don't pick, scrub or slather on anything
2) rest stay at home, get air as soon as they feel able to move. Avoid all STRESS
3) bathe no more than 20 minutes a day in Epsom salt or Dead Sea salt bath, just to stay clean and avoid infection. Eventually stop baths and switch to quick showers.
4) use some colloidal silver ointment on red or cut up areas, to prevent infection and deal with yeast/fungal infections that had been suppressed by TS
5) wash in water only no soaps, not even natural or sensitive skin ones
6) wash clothes in scent free detergent and add tea tree oil to kill bacteria/fungus
7) change sheets and clothes daily and launder in hot water.
8) wear cotton or silk only and same with bedding

Optional but I believe helped me:
1) msm every morning to reduce inflammation and speed up cell renewal
2) lglutamine to heal gut and reduce inflammation
3) vit c
4) vit d (I took 3000iu a day)
5) quercetin (heals blood vessels, natural antihistamine)
6) adrenal support supp

My diet in first six months:
1) no alcohol
2) no sugar
3) no processed anything
4) no gluten
5) no dairy
6) low histamine foods

Seven months on, I only keep gluten, dairy, processed foods out. A glass of red and good quality chocolate now help me sleep.

Weather permitting SUN with no sunscreen. Positive thinking. Staying away from negative blogs, news, arguments. Walks everyday. Strictly no moisturizing.

UPDATE: 01-12-14

"So I'm done TSW. No doubt about it. There isn't a single area of rash anywhere on my skin anymore. No peeling no dryness nothing. I'm completely soft normal strong skinned. I get up, get on with the day. No itching at night nothing. Just overnight around Friday it all finished. I was only mildly itchy behind my knees and on a patch of neck/face and wrists for over a month on and off. Then it was gone. Completely utterly gone. My nails are back to being long and manicured, life's back to normal.

I've been so busy going out all weekend drinking bottles of red wine, eating cheese, chocolate, go go go and my skin is as it used to be before I used steroids. I was doing this all month, but still had bits of itching. It's completely non-existent now. Just like that, vanished.

I was able to wear polyester with no discomfort last week that was my big sign. Took a super hot shower and used a scented shower gel just for fun for a party. My skin was soft right after towel drying. No dryness anymore. No need for tea tree or silver. Just back to normal. Overnight every single last remaining area turned just normal.

Stayed at the party drinking two bottles of red over six hours. Then walked downtown with a friend and hung out.

Got up late today, ate, splashed face, threw on make up and a gorgeous short sleeve poly top, raced to a birthday party. More wine, cheese choc etc. my skin is normal. Cats and perfume, no reactions nothing.

Heading our now for dinner with friends. Wearing sleeveless scoop neck dress.

My husband today felt my neck and knee area hell even backs of my elbows, and it's like it was before steroids. Silky normal skin.

Having gone through full tsw three times now, the biggest factors in my opinion in healing are:

No moisturizer. I cannot emphasize this enough.

No baths unless you have cuts. Minimal bathing til your skin gets stronger.

Msm supplementation

Being busy but stress free.

Goodbye tsw at 9 months!!!! Been here before and I recognize when it's over. And no there will be no more "flares" sorry vets, I know where I'm at. :)"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DIY Guide for Moisturizer Withdrawal During Topical Steroid Withdrawal

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DISCLAIMER: All information posted on this web site is the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer of your choice for medical care and advice.

How to do moisturizer withdrawal successfully: The following is the most effective way to withdraw from moisturizers during topical steroid withdrawal that I am aware of. I pioneered this method myself through trial and error, and through much experimentation and research. I hope you find this information useful in withdrawing from moisturizers yourself.

This guide works just as well for those who wish to begin their topical steroid withdrawal without the use of moisturizers, as well as those of you who are already in tsw, and wish to make your journey more comfortable. And, perhaps a little shorter. To get the desired results, please keep in mind that the key to success in this method is the stopping all moisturizers, lotions etc.

List of things you will need before you begin:
1) Dead Sea salt from Israel - Best source: https://www.sfsalt.com/minera-dead-sea-salt
2) Organic Bragg's apple cider vinegar (with "The Mother")
3) The ability to not leave you house for two weeks

To begin:
1) Stop using all moisturizers, lotions, etc. on your skin
2) Bathe 20 minutes a day using 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of natural Dead Sea salt per bath at tepid water temperature (very important)...then rinse in shower

UPDATE: (12-20-13) In retrospect, I now believe the Dead Sea salt baths work best for when the skin is broken or flaring (includes oozing), and should be reduced in frequency when the skin isn't broken. Doing dss daily should be reserved for those times when one is initially starting MW and has a lot of broken skin. The baths should be reduced to every other day asap, and then 1-2 per week for maintenance once you feel you don't need them as often. I try to go as long as possible without baths or showers at this point to allow the skin's natural oils to come back. I am 6-1/2 months into tsw, and about 95% healed, and I still am not using any soaps or shampoos of any kind, just water. Note: Be sure to rinse in shower with warm (not hot) water only.Always drink 12-16 ounces clean water either before, during, or after bath.

The reasons for daily Dead Sea salt baths are many, but the most important ones are 1) to dry out the skin and heal open wounds via scabbing over. 2) The daily bath re-hydrates your skin, and 3) the minerals absorbed from the salts are very beneficial for inflammation and many other things. One can avoid using all soaps using bath soaks to stay clean as well.

UPDATE: (7-10-17) Moisturizer withdrawal (MW) is only a term I coined to describe the short process of transitioning from moisturizing the skin to not moisturizing it. It usually takes about 2 weeks. The oil glands in our skin stop producing oil when we moisturize. Stopping moisturizing cause these natural glands to notice they need to start producing oils again. After this short transition period one is no longer in MW. At that point you are just not moisturizing your skin. Please don't confuse MW as a long term thing because it's not.

Healing Properties of Dead Sea Salts
The following list details some healing properties of the minerals found in Dead Sea Salt:

Magnesium: Aids sleep and relaxation, promotes quick healing of skin tissue and provides the skin’s surface with anti-allergic elements, essential for cell metabolism.

Bromide: Soothes skin, relaxes body muscles, and calms nerves.

Iodine: Important for the correct functioning of the thyroid gland and aids in the body's metabolic exchanges.

Sulfur: A natural disinfectant (constituent of certain vitamins). Known as a powerful detoxifying agent, as it works closely with the liver to rid the body of toxins.

Potassium: Helps balance moisture in the skin and body, aiding in the reduction of water retention and in the nourishment of cells. Potassium also regulates the nervous system.

Calcium: An essential mineral, known to strengthen bones and teeth. Also strengthens cell membranes and cleanses pores.

Sodium: Relieves stiffness and muscle cramps. Sodium is also a powerful detoxifying agent, helping cells retain nourishment and expel waste.

Zinc: When applied topically zinc is known to boost the immune system. Internally, it is a key factor in enzymatic regulation of cell proliferation.

Get as much SUN exposure on your skin every opportunity you get. Alcohol and fragrance free Witch Hazel works well on persistent oozing spots when no sun is available. So does not rinsing after a dds bath. Be very careful with sun exposure early on in tsw to not get sun burnt. .

What to expect when doing Moisturizer Withdrawal:
It depends on the degree of your symptoms. Below is a short summary of my own personal experience which should be helpful. I had severe topical steroid withdrawal/steroid induced eczema  symptoms on my hands, and much less severe symptoms on my arms, legs, feet, and other areas. Below that is a Q&A.

In week 8 of my topical steroid withdrawal I quit moisturizing, exposed my skin to the sun as much as possible without risking sunburn, did daily Dead Sea salt baths, and my skin splits, cracks, and fissures healed over quickly for the first time since I began tsw. In the beginning, the skin on my hands dried out so much I couldn't bend some of the fingers without breaking my skin open. But I was determined to make those skin breaks dry and scab over so I stuck it out. For about 3 days the pain was extremely intense. By the 4th day my situation became more bearable, and by about day 7 or 8 my skin breaks had all scabbed over and the old skin started to peel off on it's own, day after day, revealing new skin underneath. It took a couple weeks from start to finish and it was brutally painful because the skin on my hands dried up like the Sahara desert. My fingers and palms were red and swollen, and my skin felt hot like I had an infection.

In the first couple days the intense burning, itching and nerve pain along with tightness of the skin was nearly unbearable. I had one finger dry halfway closed and couldn't fit a glove over my right hand in the second or third day, so I soaked in a bath to soften the skin and was able to straighten my finger out without breaking the skin open. It dried in the sun extended and I then I couldn't close it all the way ugh! That was better than being stuck closed though, at least I could get a glove back on. But, after a couple more days of self induced torture my skin dried over, scabs formed and fell off, and new skin was in it's place. The relief was unbelievable. For once I didn't have to wear gloves to guard against infection! Yay!!

 The skin barrier on my palms was completely destroyed from my prior prolonged and increased topical steroid use, so moisturizer withdrawal will not be as painful for everybody as it was for me. For many it should be a much easier experience than what I had. Again, depending on the severity of your symptoms and how badly the skin barrier is damaged, and other factors. For me, it was well worth the extra pain for a few days to be much more comfortable for the rest of my multi-month tsw journey. I am currently at month 6 and nearly healed. Have been nearly healed for the last couple of months, but my skin seems to have hit a "stagnant" period and I haven't quite recovered fully as of yet. So, I can't say I'm finished with my tsw quite yet, but I can say ever since I quit using moisturizers my symptoms have improved by about 90%. The improvement went quick at first, then steady improvement over a period of several weeks, and now like I said, stagnant. However, stagnant or not, my tsw barely bothers me now and I expect it will be 100% finished sometime in the next few months at most. Apparently, it takes a long time for the body to recover from the damage long term steroid use causes. The main purpose of moisturizer withdrawal is for comfort. If it speeds up tsw, then that's just a plus. The difference between going through tsw moisturizing and going through tsw not moisturizing is like the difference between night and day.

After my first two days of nearly 90% healed skin I applied a moisturizer again (don't ask me why I don't know) and immediately went back into a flare within hours, good Lord!  It took another 2-3 weeks to heal my skin again by stopping moisturizing and repeating the method I used the first time, mainly dead sea salt baths and sun exposure. The second time around was almost as painful as the first, but not quite as bad since my hands were in better shape this time around. I recently experienced a third flare which was brought on by stress, and although it's been my worst flare to date, my skin is healing back faster then before. If I went back to moisturizing I would be in a continuous flare, I know from attempting it before.

Below are some common questions and answers on MW. It would take too long to cover every possible question in my Q&A here, so if you have any questions please post them in the comment box below and I will respond as soon as I can. As for the reasoning behind what I use for MW, and as to the whys, detailed information can be found throughout my blog, including links to studies which support my views that moisturizing is detrimental to the skin barrier. Even with healthy skin.

Some common Q&A:

Question: So now at 4 days w/o moisturizer I'm dealing with flaking on my ring fingers and tops of both hands. Its unsightly but not quite as red as before when I was using lotions and oils. Hard to bend the fingers and the yellow/honey colored crust is in parts. Just curious what the next stage brings in healing based on your experience?

Answer: Things will continue to slowly improve.

Q: About the salt baths: how often, and did you rinse with clean water after the salt bath? Any exfoliation during the soak when skin was wet? Even after one soak I can tell the redness is less and some of the trouble spots on my legs are beginning to dry out.

A: I do dead sea salt baths once per day and as my skin heals and starts to feel better I cut it back to every other day or so, depending on how my skin is doing. Also, soaking in chemicals like chlorine can not be good, so if you can afford it, buy a chlorine filter either for the bathtub, or one for the water line entering your home. I have read one can add 1,000 mg of powdered Vitamin C to the bath water to neutralize some of the deadly chemicals found in common tap water, so that could be an option. However, I don't know enough about this subject so you may want to research it yourself.

You are basically trying to mimic being at the dead sea. From what I understand, people who go there go into the water for awhile and then lay on the beach in the sun and dry out, and go back & forth without showering probably until later in the day or evening. I find not rinsing can have more of a drying effect on the skin, and cause too much increased itching, so I always rinse immediately after my baths.

Getting sun exposure is very important if you can during the MW process. No need to worry about the skin getting too dry from the sun. You want it to dry, scab, and heal.

I wouldn't suggest exfoliating because when treating our damaged skin we need to allow it to grow and shed naturally and we don't want to inhibit that process by revealing new skin before it's ready. Just soak and allow the dead skin to fall off on it's own when it's ready. You don't want to rush that process. Don't pick it off with your hands during the MW process!

Because I don't want any soap at all on my skin due to it's strong ability to strip the oils from the skin so easily, I never use soap and I don't shampoo my hair. When my 20 minutes are up I usually just rinse in the shower briefly and rinse my hair as much as possible with water only. My hair is actually cleaner and healthier looking doing this than when I used to shampoo it. I have tsw symptoms on different spots on my face and one ear so I often will lay on one side in the tub with one ear and half my head in the water for the first 10 minutes and then turn to the other side for the remaining 10. Sometimes I will also hold my breath and put my face directly face down into the water several times also. I have a spot on one eyelid, side of my nose, and a couple on my chin. All of these spots have cleared now so I don't do that now as much as I used to.

Q: What is the apple cider vinegar for?

A: I would add 1-2 cups of Bragg's Apple cider vinegar to a bath about once every week or so to help balance the pH of my skin. It also seems to have other benefits to the skin. 10-15 minute soak.

Q: How do I manage the dry spots re-splitting?

A: I found this to be my most difficult thing as the skin is so thin from the topical steroid damage. Especially on the areas that received the most ts. I use witch hazel and/or avc between baths to help control these splits, and keep them out of water other then when bathing. If I feel they have been exposed too much and they are turning red and sore I use straight acv on them a few times per day. The dead sea salt baths should help those skin splits heal within a few days, but they do tend to pop open again depending on how weak and thin the skin is in certain areas.

Q: What kind of gloves have you used?

A: I buy the cheap XL white cotton gloves and wear XL latex free vinyl gloves over them when I need to get my hands dirty or wet. I don't do this often though as it makes my hands sweat. I was buying the Cara brand gloves but found a seller on the web with a large amount, "Magid TouchMaster Cotton Glove, Men's Jumbo (Pack of 60 Pairs)" for $28.83 with shipping on Amazon. These are thinner but I like them a lot more than the Cara brand because they fit better. The Cara brand gloves are made too small even on their XL size.

Q: So how long after you stopped moisturizing did you get relief?

A: It took me about a week to get relief, but about two weeks for the process to complete. Once the old dried skin sheds off (I was careful to allow it to shed on it's own and not help it along) new skin appears. That whole process took me about 10 days to two weeks. The skin still remains very hypersensitive at this stage, since one is not over tsw at this point, but from there on I was much better able to handle my symptoms.

The basics are staying moisturizer free, do daily baths with 1-1/2 - 2 pounds of natural dead sea salt, and get as much sun as possible on the areas that bother you, without getting sun burnt of course. Tea Organic Bragg's apple cider vinegar and/or alcohol free witch hazel helps a lot in between baths for oozing areas and tiny skin splits.

Q: What did you do to manage the evening itching?

A: The evening itching is maddening no matter what because your body's histamine levels rise throughout the day. I have tried cutting back on eating fermented cheeses, sugar, canned fish, chocolate, coffee, pickles, ketchup and many other foods, but have found that my diet consists mainly of the very things I need to avoid so I have chosen to suffer more itching to eat what I want. However, I still try to keep things in moderation though. The mind plays a key part in healing so you don't want to make yourself miserable. Strict diets are too difficult for me unless I am facing a life threatening disease. Not so for everyone though. It's a personal decision that only you can make.

Please be sure to comment below on your experiences with moisturizer withdrawal so others can learn from your experiences as well.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Should I Use Moisturizers During Topical Steroid Withdrawal?

I stumbled on an interesting study called The Natural Moisturizing Factor of the Skin: Effects of Barrier Perturbation and Anatomical Location and Relation to Biophysical Measurements on the web while looking for information on long term effects of moisturizers on the skin barrier. What caught my attention in this particular study was the sentence, "Soak baths of relatively brief duration, up to 20 minutes in length, have been shown to temporarily increase skin hydration and reduce scaling, while extended water exposure causes maceration, disruption of the skin barrier, and a dry flaky appearance once the excess water evaporates." This helps explain why daily dead sea salt baths were so beneficial in my own moisturizer withdrawal experiment. My daily baths not only helped soothe my dry itchy skin, but they also gave my dry skin a break every 24 hours giving it the opportunity to rehydrate and soften for a while. This seemed critical in allowing severely thickened and cracked skin in healing as well. The study seems to also show that laying in a tub of water for extended periods of time is harmful to the skin barrier, so those of you who do this for comfort, take note.

I remember searching for an answer to the perplexing question of how to moisture my skin without using anything on it when I was going through my first couple months of moisturizer withdrawal and searching for information on whether water moisturizers the skin or not, etc. I also grew concerned over time that months of daily baths might be having negative effects on my skin barrier from too frequent of water exposure over time. I never did find any info until now but did cut my baths back to a couple per week on my own just because my skin had improved so much that I felt it no longer needed them.

I also searched for information on the effects of frequent bathing on the skin barrier for hours and hours. What is considered "frequent"? It seemed I searched forever on anything I could think of related to the skin barrier. The results of another interesting study, Effect of long-term use of moisturizer on skin hydration, barrier function and susceptibility to irritants suggests that long-term treatment with moisturizers on normal skin may increase skin susceptibility to irritants. This alone should give one pause in considering moisturizing during topical steroid withdrawal due to how hypersensitive the skin is during this period.

I have found from extensive research on the web that most people in the medical field have concluded there is a lack of studies done on the long term effects of moisturizers on the skin. I wonder why this is when moisturizers play such a critical role in standard medical treatment of nearly all skin issues and diseases.

Understanding how the skin works, combined with the information from what studies are available on the long term effects of moisturizing healthy skin, and the skin's hypersensitivity during tsw, it's not difficult to conclude that moisturizing during topical steroid withdrawal delays healing for much longer than people would think. Soley because of the skin's inability to heal due to the the continuous application of moisturizers throughout the tsw period. That is not to say people do not recover if they moisturize because they all do, eventually.

The way I see it people doing topical steroid withdrawal really only have two choices when it comes to moisturizing. You can moisturize during tsw and have a long drawn out recovery with the increased pain and suffering that accompanies that method, or don't moisturize and have a shorter recovery period with much less pain and other problems like infections, super bad flares, blisters, 24/7 itchiness, and other symptoms that are magnified by moisturizing continuously. Especially if using moisturizers with man made chemicals. See this site on many common chemicals in things we use all the time Cosmetics Toxic Dangers. This is just s very short list of just a few common toxins. You would be hard pressed to find anything that doesn't have Propylene glycol listed as an ingredient. It's in our foods, drugs, moisturizers, Bactrine, you name it.

Here is some more good information and links to studies on moisturizing and skin barrier effects on another blog called the Say No to Topical Steroids blog.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inspirational Quotes

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
- Henry Stanley Haskins

"Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
- Charles R. Swindoll

"Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
- Thomas Edison

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
- Pablo Picasso

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
- Anonymous

"I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."
- Thomas Edison

"I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
- Michael Jordan

 “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a mater of opportunity.”
― Hippocrates

 “How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
― William Shakespeare, Othello

“Time heals all wounds. And if it doesn't, you name them something other than wounds and agree to let them stay.”
― Emma Forrest, Your Voice in My Head

“Sometimes I wish I could be like Teflon. I always admired that stuff. Water beads up on it and slides off, nothing sticks. You gotta have a little of that to be able to deal with what's out there. But... Teflon takes a shot and shows the damage. It cannot heal itself. That is our strength: we can heal. We can make ourselves stronger. You can be a bright light in a sea of shit, doesn't matter how big the light is as long as it shines. Get a hold of some of that and don't blow your brains out no matter how good an idea it sounds like at the time. Like when you wake up around three in the morning panicking from an attack from some unseen horror and you want to get out so bad.”
― Henry Rollins

“If you touch me," I said pleasantly, "I'll provide you with the ability to see if you can heal yourself. Then we'd see how bad ass you really are.”
― Richelle Mead, Shadow Kiss

“If the Universe came to an end every time there was some uncertainty about what had happened in it, it would never have got beyond the first picosecond. And many of course don't. It's like a human body, you see. A few cuts and bruises here and there don't hurt it. Not even major surgery if it's done properly. Paradoxes are just the scar tissue. Time and space heal themselves up around them and people simply remember a version of events which makes as much sense as they require it to make.”
― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

 “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either -- or both -- when needed?”
― Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes

 “The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind”
― Caroline Myss

“Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”
― Kahlil Gibran

 “Time heals.

No, it doesn't. At best, time is the great leveler, sweeping us all into coffins. We find ways to distract ourselves from the pain. Time is neither scalpel nor bandage. It is indifferent. Scar tissue is not a good thing. It is merely the wound's other face.”
― Karen Marie Moning, Shadowfever

“I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstruction that is anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond!
I’m new wave, but I’m old school and my inner child is outward bound. I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice activated and bio-degradable. I interface with my database, my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive and from time to time I’m radioactive.

Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, ridin the wave, dodgin the bullet and pushin the envelope. I’m on-point, on-task, on-message and off drugs. I’ve got no need for coke and speed. I've got no urge to binge and purge. I’m in-the-moment, on-the-edge, over-the-top and under-the-radar. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistic missionary. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps and run victory laps. I’m a totally ongoing big-foot, slam-dunk, rainmaker with a pro-active outreach. A raging workaholic. A working rageaholic. Out of rehab and in denial!

I’ve got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant and a personal agenda. You can’t shut me up. You can’t dumb me down because I’m tireless and I’m wireless, I’m an alpha male on beta-blockers.

I’m a non-believer and an over-achiever, laid-back but fashion-forward. Up-front, down-home, low-rent, high-maintenance. Super-sized, long-lasting, high-definition, fast-acting, oven-ready and built-to-last! I’m a hands-on, foot-loose, knee-jerk head case pretty maturely post-traumatic and I’ve got a love-child that sends me hate mail.

But, I’m feeling, I’m caring, I’m healing, I’m sharing-- a supportive, bonding, nurturing primary care-giver. My output is down, but my income is up. I took a short position on the long bond and my revenue stream has its own cash-flow. I read junk mail, I eat junk food, I buy junk bonds and I watch trash sports! I’m gender specific, capital intensive, user-friendly and lactose intolerant.

I like rough sex. I like tough love. I use the “F” word in my emails and the software on my hard-drive is hardcore--no soft porn.

I bought a microwave at a mini-mall; I bought a mini-van at a mega-store. I eat fast-food in the slow lane. I’m toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear and I come in all sizes. A fully-equipped, factory-authorized, hospital-tested, clinically-proven, scientifically- formulated medical miracle. I’ve been pre-wash, pre-cooked, pre-heated, pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged, post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped, vacuum-packed and, I have an unlimited broadband capacity.

I’m a rude dude, but I’m the real deal. Lean and mean! Cocked, locked and ready-to-rock. Rough, tough and hard to bluff. I take it slow, I go with the flow, I ride with the tide. I’ve got glide in my stride. Drivin and movin, sailin and spinin, jiving and groovin, wailin and winnin. I don’t snooze, so I don’t lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hearty and lunch time is crunch time. I’m hangin in, there ain’t no doubt and I’m hangin tough, over and out!”
― George Carlin

 “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.”
― Desmond Tutu

“There are some wounds that one can heal only by deepening them and making them worse.”
― Auguste de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam

Why Does ITSAN Continue To Promote Moistuirizing?

Why does ITSAN continue to advise it's new unsuspecting members who depend on them for help and guidance to moisturize? The organization continues to give this advice even after being repeatedly made aware of an abundance of overwhelming evidence that moisturizing during topical steroid withdrawal slows and prolongs healing, creates an environment making one more susceptible to infections, and in general makes tsw an almost overwhelming and intensely uncomfortable experience?

What is it going to take for ITSAN to stop encouraging people to moisturize and to start giving good advice on this and other healing methods for tsa/tsw? Perhaps ITSAN should just stick to raising awareness of tsa and forget about trying to be a "support" group. They are failing miserably at the support part of the equation. They are not supporting anyone in any truly meaningful way that I am aware of, and they are actually causing much added and unnecessary suffering with the way they allow their forum to be run by a small handful of poorly equipped people who think they know what's best for everyone else. People who by the way, don't know the first thing about healing, or have a clue on how to heal from the topical steroid addiction. Their answers to the wicked effects moisturizing has on one's hypersensitive skin are often very vague like "tsw is a mysterious thing", and "tsw is full of twists and turns". Never do they consider it just might be the moisturizing or food triggers or stress. or a combination of all of the above. No, they say tsw is "mysterious". Well folks, it's not really mysterious at all.

Many of you must wonder why I won't leave this topic alone. If you have read my blog, you should know that months ago I discovered a lot people were posting in their blogs on how they felt utterly helpless in dealing with tsw. I could see pictures of people's glaringly "shiny" moisturized skin with the unhealed skin splits after more than a year in tsw in many cases. There were basically two common themes running across almost all tsw blogs I read. I could see a very direct cause and effect relationship between what ITSAN teaches on their so called "support" forum and what people who join ITSAN believe. They believe what ITSAN says. It's only natural. ITSAN has a lot of credibility in the area of tsa/tsw in the eyes of the unwary person new to tsa/tsw, as well as the under educated and misinformed.

The other common thread I saw among these people's blogs was they all were members of ITSAN. They all express their deep gratitude to ITSAN. For what I don't know. Personally for me, being a member of ITSAN only delayed my learning and caused me to take the wrong path to healing my own tsw symptoms. I think ITSAN is all people have. It's the obvious place to turn to. What's not obvious though is the way they run their forum, and the way the "vets" there are dead wrong on how to deal with tsw. Most people starting tsw don't have the support of their own doctors, and often even their own family members. So they naturally want to believe in ITSAN and support the organization.

ITSAN's "support" forum has been up to now the only place for people to turn. Apparently Dr Rap is starting his own support forum which will be more of a doctor to patient forum. What is really needed is a true support forum. An alternative to ITSAN and Dr Rap's upcoming forum.

It's only natural when  we find and join ITSAN that we all feel a certain "comradery" with other ITSAN members. But ITSAN is allowed to be run in a way that is counter productive to healing. However, being a private forum, they have every right to do whatever they please.

It's becoming painfully obvious that ITSAN isn't going to change. So, it's past time for an alternative forum. One that does not cater to doctors or any facet of the medical community, one that does not give poor advice to suffering people. A forum where people can make important decisions for themselves armed with all available information, not only information forum owners want them to see. A forum where everyone is treated with respect and courtesy. A forum where people won't fear speaking their minds. A forum where a small handful of "vet's' won't be allowed to do what they are allowed to do on the ITSAN forum. A forum where free speech is encouraged.

I will pound my fists and scream at the top of my lungs until the whole world is aware of how ITSAN runs their forum and treats their members. Don't let their seemingly kind and caring ways fool you. They are not what they seem. I do not support ITSAN and have made it very clear why I no longer do support them. I don't want to be a part of what they do. Simple as that. I've expressed why many times.

Moisturizing is probably the most important decision one can make in dealing with their tsw. It can mean the difference between being extremely miserable for the duration of their steroid withdrawal, no matter how long it may be, or it can mean being just slightly miserable for the duration. This is a big difference.

Yes, ITSAN vets, you made it through, or are still trying to make it through tsw via moisturizing, and you know lots of people who made it successfully (quite hellish experiences I might add due to using moisturizers), and Dr. Rap has successfully cured over 2,000 people of tsa by having them moisturize during their recoveries. Did you ever stop to think for just one moment that maybe none of these people did tsw via not moisturizing? Therefore, how could they or you, possibly know what effects not moisturizing would have had on not only the speed of healing, but mainly on the comfort level while healing?
It's no longer a question if one should moisturize or not during topical steroid withdrawal. I did it in real time while I was on the forum for everyone to witness. After that, the info came out from the Japanese conference on how MW is "essential". Since then, many others have decided to try it and every single person that has done it has reported positive results. Others have done MW before I did and have come out and told their positive experiences. No one is reporting negative experiences with MW and everybody is reporting positive experiences. As in A MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE HEALING JOURNEY! The comfort level one experiences that does tsw without moisturizing is significantly improved. The science is behind it as well. Moisturizer effects on the skin are well known and documented. You just have to dig a little deeper than big pharma's (and Dr. Rap's) websites to find it. Try and not forget how we all got addicted to topical steroids.  

Below is a copy and paste of ITSAN's Q&A on moisturizers that I found on their site under the "Resources" tab.

Q: What are the most common moisturizers used during topical steroid withdrawal?

A: During topical withdrawal, you may experience very tight dry skin and extremely flaky skin. Although no moisturizer will cure or speed up topical withdrawal, using a moisturizer can help soften skin so movement is easier. Which moisturizer works best is highly personal.

A simple moisturizer with few ingredients tends to work best as the skin is very sensitive during topical steroid withdrawal and may react to certain ingredients. Experts recommend Vaseline. Some people prefer natural oils. Olive, white palm, coconut, jojoba, and other pure natural oils have been recommended in the online support group.

Be sure to read the label of any moisturizer you buy, even if the label says it’s intended for eczema. Many contain irritants and fragrances. It’s also important to read labels because a lotion formulated for eczema treatment may contain hydrocortisone, an over-the-counter form of topical steroids.

On ITSAN"s Itch Q&A "WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THE INSANE ITCHING?" Number 10. Put on coconut oil, olive oil, or your favorite gentle moisturizer.

ITSAN speaks very highly of Dr, Fukaya, but they seem to be ignoring just about everything he has taught on the subject of moisturizing. Why? C'mon ITSAN! You can't have it both ways!