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!


  1. Hi

    Just stumbled upon your blog and am intrigued by what you've done and how fast you've healed considering the amount of time you've used steroid creams. Am currently going through MW myself and am using epsom salt baths to help it along but am still oozing a little bit.

    Just wanted to ask when you mention that your skin is falling off, whether it is falling off by itself naturally, or whether it comes off due to scratching?

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting. I was talking about the first week or so of initially doing MW and just allowing the newly dried scabs falling off on their own when ready, as opposed to helping them along by picking them off. The skin will heal better while the old skin remains until it's ready. If picked off before the new skin is ready the new skin won't quite heal as well. This is mainly for people with open sores and such. Once you get those open sores healed over you can resume light scratching without doing too much damage. Hope that clarifies it a bit. Good luck!

    2. That certainly does. Thanks Dan =) Such a temptation to scratch it off but I'm trying to let it be by itself.

      Do you mind if I ask how long you've used topical steroid creams for? I know you mentioned before that you've used it for 20 years but in those 20 years, was it a constant use or sporadic use? Just asking out of curiosity because you seemed to heal pretty damn fast compared to others who went through TSW.

    3. My healing took off as soon as I stopped moisturizing. From all the studies I've read on the subject, it is very apparent to me that moisturizing during tsw is the very worst ting we can do to ourselves.

      I used Betamethisone ointment for 20 years on a small spot of psoriasis on my genitals about once every other day on average. After about 18 years, steroid induced eczema popped up on my right hand so I started using it there. The spot on my hand just kept spreading until both hands were covered. I also had spots pop up on my face at this time as well. The spot on my genitals is still the same oddly enough. A small patch of red skin about the size of a pea. Tsw never affected it. I don't know why, other than I used very little there compared to how much I used on my hands. Even 20 years of combined usage there doesn't add up to the amount I used on my hands in the last two years.

      I healed fast compared to most because I stopped putting moisturizers on my skin. It's really that simple. Hell, I would have healed much faster if I hadn't moisturized my first two months, and if I was much younger and in better health.

    4. Okay I'm convinced now regarding this moisturiser withdrawal. Surprisingly, my local doctor also said something to the same effect so it seems that this notion isn't completely alien to the medical profession as well.

      Great thanks for telling your story. I just wanted to have an idea of how much you used so that I can have a rough estimate of where I'm headed for now.

      Certainly staying off moisturisers for now, onto day 3 for me and already it's feeling less right than it was on day 1. Thanks for much for sharing your story on here, it's of much inspiration to me and I am looking forward to fast healing without moisturiser.

      Hope you're having a great day and that your skin continues the last 10% of healing!

    5. Thanks Ji, and good luck to you! Let me know if you have any questions during your journey. I will be glad to help when I can.

    6. Hi Ji,

      Please come join our new forum and help us get some discussions going. It would really be appreciated and very helpful for the entire tsw community. Thanks, and hope to see you post something there soon! No pressure to post if you want to lurk though just so you know. I'm sure you will eventually see a discussion you'll want to chime in on. If not, no problem.:)


  2. Your skin is looking great Dan! I was looking back on my old pics and the very first pictures of my withdrawal when I wasn't using anything on my skin, I was barely pink. I am angry at myself for not realizing that I should have stopped putting things on my skin - everything made me itch 10 times more but I kept thinking it would help with mobility! I thank you for your determination to spread the word about MW! I am flaring now, but I will flare only in a few areas for a day or 2 and then it dries right up. The flaring will continue to go from place to place, but I'm not flaring all over like before and it's not lasting for months at a time...a few days is nothing! I no longer fear the flare! :)

    1. Hi Tracy,

      Thank you so much! You just made my day! Don't be angry at yourself. I too no longer feared flares after I had my first one and discovered it wasn't near as bad as I had expected from what I had read. I think I had 3-4 total, and each one lasted no longer than two weeks, and they weren't that bad. Congrats on making it through MW! I know it isn't that difficult physically to do, but mentally it is when we are led to believe that we need to moisturize. You should skate the rest of the way through your tsw now. Healing really accelerates after the first month.

  3. I posted this on another thread but wanted to post it again in case some haven't seen it.

    For those who have issues with oozing....

    I learned a little trick by accident that helps me dry the oozy areas really easy. If I scratch the scabs off of my skin in certain areas my skin will often ooze immediately afterwards. I take the witch hazel and slather over the oozing area and then apply thin 100% clean white cotton fabric to the area and hold it firmly for a minute until it sticks in place. The area will dry within 10-15 minutes and when I pull the cotton off it leaves hundreds of tiny cotton threads which help seal the wound and keep it dry. I call it the "cotton scab". Later when I'm bored I pick off the tiny fibers, or take a bath and they come out then.

    I originally learned this from using gloves but have done the same thing on other areas a couple months ago with the same effect. Works really good!

    1. Thanks for the tip Dan! My own tip is to not even scratch those areas and instead relieve myself by scratching other non oozy areas but might gives yours a go.

      Sorry but have another question for you - having since started MW, have you experienced multiple flares like many others going through TSW have? Or have you just mainly had the one flare and then small subsequent ones?

    2. HI Ji, your welcome and feel free to pick my brain anytime. It took me a long time to figure out what a flare is. It's when your skin all of a sudden starts getting very irritated and starts getting worse condition than it's been in weeks. Usually triggered by stress. The first one made me feel like I was almost starting over again but the ones after that were much more mild. It lasts for about two weeks from beginning to end when not moisturizing, and is pretty mild compared to what you've probably heard. But when moisturizing, it lasts for months imho. I had between 3-4 flares total and they weren't that bad. They just set you back a bit temporarily. When I have one I go back to daily dss baths until my skin feels better. So yes, I mainly had one bad flare and then small subsequent ones. Don't fear the flare, that's for people who moisturize.

  4. Hey Dan,

    Someone told me about your site at itsan and I was interested cause few of us going through this have it on the front of their hands, most have it just on the backs.

    Month 18 myself and in the middle of a bad and not so bad flare. Better overall, worse cause of the location and the pain which seems worse cause I assume my nerves have woken up. Hardest is the hands cause I can't do a damn thing with them like this.

    Anyway, cool blog and thanks for sharing man.

  5. Hey Swanky,

    Thanks, I appreciate it! I hope you get better soon. I'm glad they kept my hand thread there. It has got to be one of the worst areas to have this shit. Hey, 18 months is too long. Are you moisturizing?

    1. Your welcome man and same to you my friend.

      This hand shit is the worst and no, I have not really been moisturizing, I never really liked the feeling and it never really did anything for me.

      18 months but not with my hands like this. I never had it on the front of my hands till the last two flares.Before then it was on the backs of hands like everyone else. I've made progress in 18 months, it's just migrated to the shittyist of places. Hands and and penis (yikes) and it all started in a bad place, my waist... Tough deal

    2. Damn Swanky, that's harsh! How much TS did you use and how long? Have you tried my Dead Sea salt bath approach to keeping this under control? I"m at 7 months and have been completely clear of most my skin issues except for the top of my hands for months now. I used the bulk of the TS on my palms and never used on top of my hands. I'm getting a UVB lamp Friday and plan to use it to get rid of the rest. Or, try to anyway. Without knowing your background it's difficult to understand why you are still having issues at 18 months. Can you elaborate? I sure hope I'm not still dealing with this shit a year from now! Feel free to email me privately anytime you want to too. My contact link is under my privacy policy.

    3. Quick run down of my story.

      I never had eczema in my life, maybe sensitive skin at most.

      Never allergic to metal but I was working a job, got some black powder on my arm and a rash was there at the end of the day. Followed by flare ups on hands and maybe back of knees. I assume it was metal power.

      A few months later, I got a rash on my waist, what I found out years later was a belt rash, from the nickle in the buckle and jeans buttons. At the time I didn't know and used over the counter 1% steroids to treat. A few months later I had my first red flare up, localized, when to a derm and they gave me a shot and stronger topicals, this repeated a few times. So on and off steroids for 8 years, more off than on but I always had those tubes and would use when I thought I needed and the areas where I applied continued to grow and it spread. Of course all the docs and derms said I had eczema, wrong.

      Dr. Fukuya says he thinks it's anywhere from 10% to 30% of the time you used TS to heal. At 8 years on and off use, that puts me at 2.4 years (almost 2 years and a half) on the extreme end. That makes it another year for me if that is correct. However, even with that, everyone is a bit different so who knows.

      I have not tried Dead Sea salt bath, I hate water since this started. Hate it and hate putting on any creams or moisturizer. It's a tough situation for me.

    4. Sounds like you have a few allergies that was the initial causes, but you can't nail down exactly what they are until you are 100% healed from what I understand. You will need to avoid those things in the future and not treat them with ts when they do happen on occasion. I'm sure you know that.

      So, the f'ing docs did you in by not telling you to do something natural and gave you poisons instead and you ended up in the same place as many of us have. I have the greatest respect for DR F but I think many of his patients moisturized during tsw, so his numbers may be a little skewed. And, he is vague because he knows there are so many variables such as age, attitude, diet, health, etc etc.

      Swanky, I hate taking baths. I haven't taken more than a handful in my life life until last year. Trust me, you can very likely alleviate the majority of your rashes and other symptoms using dss baths. It wouldn't take more than two weeks. And, I would bet my bottom dollar you can clear your skin by 90-95% of you were to combine them with using a home UVB lamp. You would have to come up with $350 to do this but it's worth it. That's $88. for 60 lbs of salt and $250 for the lamp.

      I'll post some info on dss for you. It doesn't matter what type of rash you have, your skin will get great benefits from dong dss baths.

      Please tell me, how long since you have not put anything on your skin other than water? That includes moisturizers of any kind, any kind of soaps or shampoos, lotions, etc. I mean nothing but water.

      I have the same problem and understand your condition. But I have been relatively normal since month 4 or 5 and have been able to use my hands since then in a mostly normal way. My hands looked like hamburger meat right before and after I stopped ts. I also used them on other areas of my body too. You should not be having such a hard time at 18 months and I suspect you are using soaps, moisturizers but in denial, or something. If you aren't, then you definitely should try dss baths. I'll post some info right below this comment.

    5. I can see you have given this a lot of thought and I see the issues you have had with the itsan people.

      One of the things I do believe is with this condition, healing comes from within, no doubt.

      I wonder what the difference is with Dead Sea Salt as appose to Epsom salt and just sea salt, etc.

      Even bathing, bath or shower has been tough for me. I just got out of the shower and didn't use any moisturizer and I'm dry. I remember reading Dr F's blog about dry healing and it always resonated with me. Yes I used moisturizer on parts of my body, at times is almost seemed like I had to. I do use soap from time to time as I really don't know what else to use to get clean. I've used some of that purple antiseptic Dr F recommends but only a time or two. I just don't know if you can really get clean with just water, doesn't seem possible.

      Good example. My underarms are fine, 100% and I use soap and even deodorant on them and I get no bad reactions at all. To me it just seems like some parts of my skin are bad and will be till the skin heals inside.

      There are a few things stopping my progress, stress, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, lack of sleep. These are the things I'm having a tough time getting under control.

      How long did you use Dan? And did you just use on your hands?

    6. Hi Swanky,

      I truly feel your pain. I can see your problem quite clearly now. You really need to read my blog and all comments on it front to back, including the links to the studies I've included to get a better understanding of why you aren't healing, and how to heal. It's rather repetitive at times but you can gain a lot from it. You can skim over parts that aren't pertinent to the skin. I can't explain everything here in a short comment.

      I used betamethasone ointment for 20 years, last two years extremely heavy amount on my hands. I assume your underarms are fine because you never used ts there and never broke out with steroid induce eczema there after doing tsw? The skin is hypersensitive during tsw and it is imperative that you take proper precautions to be comfortable and to heal. You don't want to damage or irritate hypersensitive skin. Hot water and soap are both damaging. Soaking in water for over 20 minutes can be damaging. There is a lot of difference between sea salts, Epsom salts, and real Dead sea salts.

      Soaking in dss baths will do several things for you. It will keep you clean. A 20 minute soak pretty much cleans everything out of your pores. I have only used a very safe soap just a few times on my hands in 7 months and I'm very clean. I have only shampooed my hair maybe 4 times. You would be amazed at how clean the hair gets when we stop using chemicals on it.

      Dead Sea Salts effectively treat many skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis to more everyday conditions such as oily or dry skin. Dead Sea salts are also known to soothe rashes, calm allergic reactions, minimize dandruff and treat acne. In addition, Dead Sea salts detoxify your skin, drawing out dirt, pollutants and impurities from each pore. See Dead Sea Mineral Salt Benefits

      The baths also healed all of my minor spots of steroid eczema fro head to toe. The major areas took a little longer but since doing these baths I have been very comfortable compared to before doing them.

      The thing is, few people have followed my MW and dss bath method correctly, therefore few are aware of it's actual benefits. A few have though and all are doing very well. One person who has recently used my method is Ruth, you can see her comments in my various recent posts. She mostly emails me privately so you won't see all of her daily progress like I have but she is very happy. She did it the correct way. She had her bad days, but we all do. I'm sure she can attest to the fact that she feels a lot better now.

      When you're ready to take the plunge drop me a private email and I'll guide you day by day if needed. You can straighten this out in no time if you do the right things. And, it's really not that many things.

    7. Your email address didn't work...

    8. Not sure why. Sorry about that! You can post yours here and I can delete it immediately afterwards if you like. I'll be sitting here for the next 15-20 minutes at least. Or, as an alternative, I can change my settings to moderate comments and have your email without publishing the comment. Let me know which you prefer.

    9. Swanky, the person who wrote the guest MW guide on my blog emailed me and said she couldn't post on my blog with her phone right now and asked me to post her comment to you. She said...

      "Fungal infection is screaming from waist area. Tea tree, colloidal silver and no sugar to stop insulin spikes. Also my first tsw after 21 years of daily use, perfect at 15months, no "flare" again. This 20-30% time seems imperfect at best."

  6. International Journal of Dermatology
    A 1999 study published in the International Journal of Dermatology tested one hundred patients with psoriasis who sought treatment in the Dead Sea. 75% of these patients were clear of their condition after four weeks of on-site treatment. Of this group, 68% remained clear (in remission) through 4 months, and 43% were clear after six months.

    Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
    In a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, twenty seven patients traveled to the Dead Sea for treatment of plaque psoriasis. The treatment consisted of daily bathing in the Dead Sea and controlled sunlight exposure. 48 percent of the twenty-seven patients were cleared of psoriasis completely and stayed in remission. The other 41 percent demonstrated a positive response to the treatment.

    Israel: Dr. Zvi Even Paz
    In 1989, Israeli dermatologist Dr. Zvi Even Paz conducted a study to evaluate the effects of Dead Sea Salts on 50 psoriasis patients. It had already been established that bathing in the Dead Sea itself brought relief, but it was not known if the Dead Sea salts would have the same effect when used in different environments (such as a bathtub).
    47 of the 50 patients experienced significant relief after soaking in a bath containing Dead Sea salts. The best results came to those who soaked in two pounds of salts (divided into 3 baths) three times a week for six weeks.

    Germany: Dr. J. Arndt
    Dr. J. Arndt conducted a controlled study involving 50 psoriasis patients, between 14 and 77 years of age. All patients were treated using Dead Sea salts in partial or full baths and were treated with the salts in a controlled way. In a full bath, 2 kgs of the salts were dissolved in a bath at a temperature of 27 C. The partial baths were made with a concentration of about 10%. The baths lasted for 20 minutes and followed by a rinse. The patient remains in a warm, packed condition after the bath to enhance the effect of the salts.

    The treatment lasted for 3-4 weeks, with 3-4 baths per week. Within only one week of treatment, symptoms diminished, including itching and scaling joints. Other symptoms such as spread, redness and infiltration continued to decrease. Improvement was steady- after four weeks, patients were clear of all symptoms.

    The symptom patients were most concerned about was itching, and they were thrilled to be relieved in less than one week. Sleeping disturbances go hand in hand with the itching and are widespread in psoriasis patients – and sleep also improved in Dr. Arndt’s study.

    Both patients and physicians in the study interpreted the drastic decrease in discomfort and scaling within one week.

    Healing was complete in 27 patients (54%), and in the other 22 cases, there was vast improvement in their condition. Tolerance to the treatment was excellent in all patients involved in the study, and none of the participants experienced any side effects whatsoever, dermatological or otherwise