Sunday, December 8, 2013

DIY Guide for Moisturizer Withdrawal During Topical Steroid Withdrawal

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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
2) Tea Tree oil
3) Alcohol & fragrance free Witch Hazel
4) Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
5) 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 (important)...then rinse in shower
3) Use Tea Tree Oil and/or Witch Hazel on broken skin when needed (Caution: some people are allergic to tto, so if you suspect you might be, skip using it)
4) Avoid all stress
 
Optional oral supplements:
1) Flax oil daily
2) Vitamin D3 daily (very important, have blood work done to know your Vitamin D range
3) Quercetin (heals blood vessels, natural antihistamine)
4) Omega3 fish oil

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 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. MW is the real key and Dead Sea salt baths, tea tree oil and other things are used for healing open wounds. It's the combination of the Dead Sea salt baths, sun exposure, and other little things that make this method the most effective. Not any one thing alone.

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. 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 bleach and apple cider vinegar for?


A: I did a bath about once a week with 1/2 cup of bleach added to the water as a precaution for infections while I did MW. Do not combine with Dead Sea salts. Just water and 1/2 cup straight bleach added to warm water for a 15 minute soak. Never bath or shower in hot water, it strips the skin's oils as much as soaps do. I would add 1-2 cups of Bragg's Apple cider vinegar to a bath about once every week or so to balance the ph of my 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 tea tree oil between baths to 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 water diluted Tea Tree oil 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 Tree oil diluted with water and 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.

61 comments:

  1. Hi Dan,

    I read with EXTREME interest your post on withdrawing from moisturizing. Indeed, mine gives me a solid itch attack after a shower or bath. Ironicially, my first Derm said to NOT moisturize at all--he says our bodies can supply all the moisture we need…
    I'm in about month 2. I went for 2 solid days without moisturizing and then took a shower. Interestingly, the water did not bother my skin, but then I moisturized and all heck broke loose.
    I cannot find your email particulars, but can you post your email and I'll check it again tonight? I don't have my microsoft wizard set up.
    Thanks,
    -Ruth

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    1. Hi Ruth,

      I'm so happy you found my post interesting! That first Derm sounds like a good one. I have a post here about the skin's hypersensitiveness during tsw. You might find it interesting as well. I recently posted some good info on moisturizers too.

      I also made the mistake of moisturizing after stopping moisturizers and know exactly how you feel. I actually did it a couple times. What I did to take care of it was soak for 20 minutes in a Dead Sea Salt bath to try and rid my skin of what was left of the moisturizer. Followed by daily dss baths until my skin felt good enough to cut the baths back to every other day. My skin calmed down within a couple days or so each time.

      Basically, I just revert back to my withdrawal method I posted above any time I screw up and use a moisturizer on my skin. Water never bothered my skin other than make it hurt where I had skin splits, breaks, etc (must be the chemicals in the water). But with the dead sea salts in the water I find it very soothing.

      There is another poster here named jsan who uses Epsom salts rather than the dss with positive results. I haven't ever tried the Epsom salts myself. I guess because I've been so happy with the dss and that's what I tried first. She has her own moisturizer withdrawal guide that will be posted here tonight. Her method is very similar to mine with only minor differences, being I use dss and she uses Epsom. And, a couple other minor things.

      Please make your comments here so others can learn, but if you want to say something privately you can email me anytime using my "contact me" link located directly below my privacy policy. I'm here most of the time so if you have any questions please feel free to post them here anytime!

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    2. Hi Dan,

      Thanks So much for answering me so quickly. I am assuredly in HELL right now. I am a long term atopic dermatitis sufferer, but I have had years, no exaggeration of lovely skin. The bad stuff started happening when I started trying new Derms who just sent me right up the food chain, so to speak of potent steroid creams. I wondered why my first Derm never prescribed them. I refused oral prednisone, but accepted a Kenalog shot this past September for the 1st time and I do believe in the end, that is what I am paying for now. That Derm gave me a tub of Triaminoclone ointment to use in conjunction as needed. I mean a tub. It is sitting in my room, barely used. I would estimate I stopped using topicals by the end of September…so I'm about 2.5 months in. I also believe my body was going thru withdrawal this summer despite repeated insults of lipid locoid cream everyday. The one night it started to burn, I knew I had to stop. I have been on two rounds of antibiotics now and I've never had skin infections previous to this in my life. I'm 51. I'm a monster these days…depressed, angry, itchy, defeated.
      Now, about the dead sea. I have been there, and experienced first hand the healing powers of the ocean. I was last there in 2010, by coincidence for a family visit..and had been doing UVB in town…well, one dip in the mud and the ocean and I had **zero** problems with my skin for an entire year…

      CAn I ask why you put so much salt in the bath? Is it to solely replicate the 33% salt content of the real Dead Sea in order to maximize benefits? What if I only put in a cup or two of the salt--would I just burn instead? Do you live in VA per chance? If so, we might be local to each other--and I'd love to to talk to you on the phone about your experiences and ask you some questions.
      I have a full body flare now. I'm in pain, and itch and find it impossible to quell the itch. I do a good job by day with meditation, but night I fall apart and don't sleep..even with prescription Atarax on hand. It is awful. I used to be a normal, nice person..

      I am thinking of trying this tomorrow, but want to know about the high load of salt. At one point, I didn't shower or moisturize for two days straight and I was really leathery and it worried me.
      thanks,
      -Ruth

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    3. Hi Ruth,

      I started out with a small handful of salt at first but after researching more I discovered that you only get the benefits from the salt if you use 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per bath. Any less and your skin doesn't absorb enough of the minerals. Not to be confused with Epsom salts, I don't think they work the same way as dss.

      It is to replicate the Dead Sea as you suggest. You won't burn no matter if it's a cup or two pounds, as long as it's real Dead Sea salt in a full bath of tepid temperature water. It may sting slightly for the first minute or two, but after that it gets better every minute that goes by, and by minute 20, my skin's inflammation, pain, and itching is gone. The itching will come on as the evening grows however. This will decrease over time as long as you don't put anything on your skin.

      I live in Oregon, but used to live in VA so am familiar with your beautiful state. What is the current condition of your skin? And skin breaks, splits, fissures? Where are your worst symptoms? Moisturizer withdrawal will make things much easier for you, I promise!

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  2. Dear Dan

    Again, my thanks on your getting back to me so quickly. I just received my order from Amazon for dss…which is listed as being from Israel. Previously, I'd only used ahava but they come fragranced which I don't want. Baths have been making me itch, btw, using epsom salts, nothing, or sea salt (Celtic, not Israel). So, I'm hopeful this will work.
    RIght now, I am off my 2nd round of antibiotics. I have teeny white pustules on my arms--not really infected that I can tell, but they have come back after going off of minocycline. I do pick at them, which doesn't help. I put tea-tree oil on tonight-a bit and my skin is now burning…but every night it itches fiercely. It cannot get any worse.
    I think back to my days last year or the year before, where on the weekends when I didn't work out (shower and moisturize by habit really), my skin was fine and didn't bother me. I've all but given up wine, beer, and eat very little cheese now. I put myself on a new probiotic after this round of antibiotic which is taken after dinner. Maybe that is upsetting skin. It is either burning or itching and I just know I cannot live like this for another 7 months **hoping** and not knowing for sure I may get a break. I need a break now, Dan. I'm miserable and cannot partake of any part of life now.
    At night do you put any more water on your skin? My skin still burns some now and then. Do you also put your face in the bath? I do have RSS on my face, which peels all the time or itches.
    I have a bad break out, litchenfied skin on the backs of my knees and various open patches on my back and arms and neck. UGH! Oddly, I used to get cuts and painful hands for the past 3 winters but nothing so far this year on my hands!! No swollen or painful cracks and I can wear my wedding rings again (I thought it was arthritis--but it seemed too early at age 50 for a non-smoking, rarely drinking, pretty healthy eating gal like me! ;))
    What took you to Oregon? I live in Maryland, how long were you in VA??
    -Ruth

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  3. I have quit the baths, im at day 74. Can i tell you what I honestly think helped the most? I stopped stressing about my skin, did nothing to the skin and went on with my life. And it is going away (see my Tumblr-Itchy Tales)-linked on the side here of Dan's blog. I wear gloves at night and to do dishes. For me, the baths helped in the beginning but I also dont need them now. I switched to Epsom after my DSS ran out. Occasionally I use Tea tree oil on cracks but it kind of burns so I use it less and less. Trust me, time heals and I do yoga and try not to focus on the crap thats happening with my skin. I also avoid processed food and gluten, only small amounts of dairy. Be well!

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  4. Hi Ruth,
    I lived in Salisbury for awhile as a kid too. I'm originally from the NW and prefer it here. You should use the Dead Sea salt link I have in my guide. Not a bad deal for the real thing at $89.00 for 60 pounds delivered, and you're going to need double that by the time you're done. Avoid all dss that have added anything and only buy from reputable sellers or you could end up getting common ocean salt and it's not the same. And, it's difficult to know the difference.

    Those tiny blisters, I was pretty successful at getting them to go away within two days average by applying undiluted tea tree oil with a Q-tip a few times a day. Just a tiny dab on each one, you don't want to put a lot of undiluted tea tree oil on your skin. I often would sit in the sun this past summer and pop every one right before doing my baths. Not sure if it helped them heal or not. It may have put me at more risk of infection.

    I feel your pain on the itching part. It lasted the longest out of all the symptoms for me. I still wake up scratching sometimes but my skin no longer breaks from it. I did drugs like atarax and Valium most of the time for sleep but only got an average of 3-4 hours a night in my first 2-3 months. I taught myself to jump out of bed and run to the freezer for ice cubes to keep from scratching so much. But that was when I was moisturizing in my first two months. After MW I didn't have such severe itching. The itching did continue, and does to this day, but it is much less intense after MW, and after a little time goes by.

    I doubt probiotics are effecting your skin. Ruth, it won't be like this for another 7 months as long as you don't moisturize anymore. When my skin burned I used ice cubes a lot. Don't hold them on one place too long, you just want to slightly numb the nerve endings for temporary relief. Leaving ice on your skin too long can be damaging.

    I did put my face in the bath water quite frequently. The dss baths help a lot for this. You must have been using moisturizers up until just recently?


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  5. Hi Dan,

    Having a horrible itch attack all over now. Dry skin peeling off everywhere. No, I haven't stopped moisturizers--I only use once a day right after a shower. My only method of brief comfort everyday has been the following:
    1.) Take tepid shower
    2.) immediately pat dry and slather on, thinly, Vanicream lotion, all over.
    3.) Rush to take comfort in a bed with a fabulous egg crate topper, cotton sheets and two down blankets.
    4.) Meditate the itch away (really good at this ONLY in the mornings) and wait for it to pass. Usually, it is feeling like I have broken glass all over me. Then unbearable itch. Then pure comfort as all of my body becomes one regulated temperature. No itch, no pain, peace.
    5.) Convince myself to leave comfort of bed and get dressed.
    6.) Itch attack.
    7.) Try to ignore and go about my day.
    After 9pm, itch attack.
    Have learned the hard way to NOT shower and reapply moisturizer or I am up all night itching.

    I can only pray this s*7^ away now and hope for the best. Last night, I got to sleep at 6am. Thats' right. 6am, even though I'd taken 3 Atarax the night previous at 10pm.

    I believe I got the Minera brand on Amazon, but I'll have to check. It just seems like such a huge amount. Does Quercetin have to build up?
    I take an Omega 3 already
    I take 5,000 units of D3 as I was 43 on my last reading, October 2013
    I take fermented cod liver oil
    I take a tsp. of flax seed oil and/or hemp oil
    I take 5 sprays of B12 in the morning

    I've also been experimenting with green smoothies in the morning.
    I am itchy every single darn morning too…which is something I NEVER experienced with my usual atopic dermatitis.

    tea tree oil burned, but it did make those tiny pus blisters disappear. We are expecting a snowstorm tomorrow so not sure how much sun I'll see in the next few days. Was thinking of trying your protocol next week, after I've seen an integrative MD who is not a Derm and takes my insurance.

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    1. Hi Ruth, it's very clear to me that a lot of the reason you are having such a hard time is the moisturizing. Especially because of the kind of moisturizer you are using. You might not suffer as much with moisturizing that little if you use something like the Organic Spectrum White Palm Oil Shortening. Look up the ingredients in Vanicream, but look them up this way. Type The ingredient name, say Dimethicone. Type dimethicone dangers in google. Review about 4-5 of the sites that come up. Repeat on the other ingredients and when you are finished you will know why your skin is going through hell. I remember a few nights where I got one hour sleep total. It's hell. You must get off the moisturizes of all kinds if you want relief.

      My Vitamin D level was 59.2 and I exposed myself to sun a couple times per day every single day of the summer. So, I'm currently taking 4-6,000 units a day due to no sun.

      You have to ask jsan about the Quercetin. That's something I haven't tried but do remember seeing very positive things about it when I looked into it before. I probably should be taking it.

      I rarely ever itched in the mornings. Again, you need to stop moisturizing completely, and until you do, at least stop using Vanicream! I lost all confidence in my first Derm because she gave me Vanicream to use. The Spectrum shortening was the least irritating out of all moisturizers I tried before I went "dry".

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    2. Ruth, I forgot, I was going to suggest taking a bath for 20 minutes once or twice a day while you wait for your salts. This will re-hydrate your skin (briefly) and keep you clean. A few drops of tea tree oil in the water would be helpful too. No soaps or shampoos of any kind of course. Ground Oats would help soothe the skin until you get the salts. Use about 1-3 cups per bath. Be careful, very slippery.

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  6. Thanks so much, Dan. Vanicream does not have Dimethecone, but it does have Simthecone and I will look that up.
    I'm super dry these days and have no skin elasticity..so I may be half the way there anyway. I'm still nervous about that amount of salt in the bath. Maybe I try with real oatmeal (aveeno oatmeal bath made me, you guessed it, ITCH!)

    We are having a huge snowstorm today so unable to get to the store (rats!) and get the palm oil as you suggested. Should I try bacon grease? (not hot, of course!!) I do use Aquaphor on my face with success. I may have to bathe today and just use aquaphor for today. I have only one bag of dss right now. The flaking is pretty ferocious right now, which causes me to itch. I've scratched the hair off of my arms and legs at this point.
    Tea tree oil on the little spots last night helped (but burned. ouch).
    thanks Dan!

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    1. Oops! My Derm had given me both vanicream and vaniply. Dimethicone is in the vaniply. However, it is just as bad.

      Propylene glycol

      Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol. These are petroleum plastics that easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. PG is a solvent so powerful it dissolves through a stainless steel tank in 48 hours so it has to be stored in plastic drums. The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles. However, Propylene Glycol is used in some products in concentrations of up to 20%. It is also the main ingredient in certain types of Antifreeze. How's that for good skin care?

      Propylene glycol has been reported as a problem if you already have liver or kidney problems. It is also a problem in cosmetics in areas of low humidity less than 65% because of the potential to remove water from your skin. This is not what you want in a moisturizer. A clinical review published in the American Academy of Dermatologists journal of January 1991, shows propylene glycol to cause a significant number of skin reactions and it is named as a primary irritant to the skin even in low levels of concentration.

      polyethylene glycol monostearate

      Mineral Oil aka petrolatum, paraffin

      Mineral Oil forms an occlusive barrier on the skin, effectively preventing the skin from breathing and function normally. This barrier can inhibit the skins’ own NMF (Natural Moisturising Factor), which may lead to excessive dryness and/or fluid retention. Many years ago, mineral oils were the preferred base oils of aromatherapists, as they were considered non-toxic, cheap and easily able to pick up the smell of essential oils. They are still widely used in ‘baby oils’ and moisturising creams. Despite the name, mineral oils are manufactured from crude petrol. According to the International Agency for Research into Cancer in Geneva, they are probably carcinogenic as ‘analyses of mineral oils used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes reveal the presence of several carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are in the Eighth Report on Carcinogens, including benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]pyrene.’9 They’re noted as a human teratogen by inhalation which has caused testicular tumours in the foetus. They are also skin and eye irritants and may be implicated in aspirational pneumonia.6

      Mineral Oil aka petrolatum, (white petrolatum), paraffin

      Mineral Oil forms an occlusive barrier on the skin, effectively preventing the skin from breathing and function normally. This barrier can inhibit the skins’ own NMF (Natural Moisturising Factor), which may lead to excessive dryness and/or fluid retention. Many years ago, mineral oils were the preferred base oils of aromatherapists, as they were considered non-toxic, cheap and easily able to pick up the smell of essential oils. They are still widely used in ‘baby oils’ and moisturising creams. Despite the name, mineral oils are manufactured from crude petrol. According to the International Agency for Research into Cancer in Geneva, they are probably carcinogenic as ‘analyses of mineral oils used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes reveal the presence of several carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are in the Eighth Report on Carcinogens, including benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]pyrene.’9 They’re noted as a human teratogen by inhalation which has caused testicular tumours in the foetus. They are also skin and eye irritants and may be implicated in aspirational pneumonia.6

      BHT

      Delete
    2. Epic fail. I just took the oatmeal bath…but I applied a bit of aquaphor during the bath because I was just THAT dry. Now, I cannot stop itching…what to do..what to do..???

      Delete
    3. Ruth, please stop applying that crap! I would soak again in pure water with a few drops of tea tree oil added for 20 minutes, to try and get as much out as possible, and just suffer the consequences until things calms down again. That's all you can do. Remember, the goal is to be dry, so don't let it bother you. You just aren't used to it yet. Your skin will feel better dry than wet with moisturizers in the long run.

      Delete
    4. Hi Dan,

      I read your morning message TOO late. Wish I hadn't used the aquaphor. Maybe I should take another oatmeal bath later with nothing..

      Delete
    5. I know. I'm so sorry. I have done the same things you are doing and know what you are going through. I would do a bath with just water only with a few drops of tea tree oil added. Then, a few hours later do an oatmeal bath without the tea tree oil. Then, late at night tonight I would drink a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda, and about an hour later take 50mg of atarax and go to bed. That is what I would do if in your position right now.

      Also, be very careful going to doctors. They often will lead you down the wrong path, not meaning too. They just don't understand tsa/tsw. And they simply don't have enough time to properly treat their patients. It's been my experience that even the ones that say they do understand tsw, don't have the time to fully investigate it like we do. So, they don't know a lot about it which can lead to giving bad advice.

      I would strongly urge you to read my entire blog, starting from the very beginning where I made multiple posts in October. I started the blog in October so had to post my beginning experiences there even though I began tsw around July. If you read everything I have written on my blog you will have a complete understanding of nearly everything there is to know about tsa/tsw and MW, among other useful things.

      The reason I ask you to read these early posts is there was something there I wanted to tell you about but can't remember what it was so I started searching the posts and saw lots of info you would probably enjoy reading anyway. By enjoy, I meant "find informative".

      Never hesitate to use ice to calm the skin during the most intense moments of itch attacks. It beats tearing the skin apart.

      Delete
  7. does it matter about fine or coarse salt?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use coarse as it is the most natural form I think. Not sure though. I imagine it comes n all sizes and the fine is just sorted from the course so it is probably still in it's natural form. Yeah, Michelle seems to be a very kind and generous person.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Dan. Tomorrow (Weds) is dday…or should I say the day I start. I just ordered 20lbs of dead sea salts..as I'm feeling a bit spry and hopeful I might actually have decent results and get my life back to a somewhat more normal, albeit slower, routine. You've been so gracious in answering me so quickly. THANK YOU!

      Delete
    3. Hi Ruth,
      You are very welcome. Glad to help. Let me know how you feel after your first bath. Once you heal the open wounds you will feel so much better. Your skin has to dry out in order to heal. The skin wants to heal but can't heal near as quickly if we put moisturizers on it. Be prepared for a lot of pain while your skin drys and heals. Especially the first 2-3 days. After a week to 10 days you will be in heaven compared to what you are going through right now.

      Delete
  8. Nice guide!
    I'm on just Vit D, Vit B complex sup and cod liver oil now. No bathes, just 5 minutes in the shower. Happy with my progress and not looking to alter anything new input for now. No moisturizer has definitely gave me the most progress as I've tried the same supplements with moisturizer and my skin remained wet,raw and constantly breaking.

    cheers!
    Leslie
    http://saynototopicalsteroids.wordpress.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Leslie! Although I haven't completed tsw quite yet, it doesn't bother me near as much as when it did when I used moisturizers :) And, my skin is about 80-90% clear at 6 months. I've been able to function normally for the last 3 months at least. Before that, I could barely hold a coffee cup in my hand.

      Delete
  9. Well Dan… I am gearing up now for my first DSS bath. I will say this. I was extremely itchy at night last night, but took 4 atarax and did sleep better than I have in a week.
    Also, nice, no, I repeat NO tiny blisters this morning. I'm already dry as a bone and have elephant, leathery skin on the backs of my knees, elbows, etc. Please tell me this improves!!! It is scary looking. I have oozing on the backs of my knees too. I will let you know how it goes after I am done. I will have to leave my house though throughout the process (young kids at home) but I am presuming that jsan also left her house and managed OK. I have ibuprofen to take if the pain gets really bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth, I could have left the house if needed so it's not that debilitating. But it does depend on how bad your condition is. It was really bad on my hands which is what kept me from doing anything. The key to my method is allowing those raw and broken areas to dry, scab over, and heal. MW will not end then tsw process but it will make the process mush more manageable for you. Be prepared for plenty of tightness and pain over the next few days. Then it will ease up and after a few more days you'll feel like a million bucks compared to the way you have been feeling.

      The reason I use dead sea salt baths for MW are many. The most important being it's anti-infammatory effect, and the minerals. The second reason is I like the idea of allowing my skin to re-hydrate daily even if for a very short time. I feel it aids in healing. Also, soaking in water for 20 minutes cleans the body without having to use soaps of any kind.

      Delete
  10. Hi Dan!

    So, I had my first bath this am around 11:30am, EST. It stung a bit, but nothing major. I got out, and had an itch attack. Nothing that was anymore than I get with moisturizer, and maybe a bit less. I was feeling disheartened so I got dressed quickly (no moisturizer) and snuggled under some blankets for an hour. That eased out the itch..and I just feel tight now. No pain really, just tight, particularly on my face which is missing some oil or something!
    All in all, so far, more comfortable without moisturizer than with. I can go about my business..am hoping to take a walk later today in the sun, though it is only 30 degrees here today. I do feel tight. I imagine it will start to hurt more as the day progresses and I'm moving about as I normally do.
    Thank you Dan and keep your fingers crossed for me. I;d do anything to get these areas to crust over and just not itch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. small itches coming and going, but not insane as before

      Delete
  11. Hi Ruth,

    I am surprised you had an itch attack immediately afterwards. Be sure to never scratch while in the baths, it will really tear your skin up and make you itch a lot. Did you scratch while in the tub or use water hotter than 100 degrees? Pure dead sea salts with no added anything? How much salt (be honest lol)?

    You may not have that much pain it just depends on the condition your skin is in. I'm sure your intense itching will continue for awhile though, there isn't a whole lot we can do about it other than the various things that can bring some relief. The intensiveness of the itching will slowly go away over time. I think being dry helps speed up this process. I also feel the dss baths help a lot with it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your reply. I didn't scratch in the tub, no. I'm not sure how hot the water was, but it was tepid and not hot. I know hot baths well since 10 years ago, I used to love to bathe in them. The water was getting a bit chill, so I added some warm water, but again, not hot and it just warmed it up a bit. I can try not doing that tomorrow, but it was getting cold in the bath after only 10 minutes. I did time it. I used ONE lb of salt this morning, but I am going to go for 1.5 tomorrow, since I think I can stand it. Michelle said I could go up to 2 lbs as well.
    The itch really stinks but so far is manageable today. I am just dreading tonight, but that is nothing new; I dread every night.
    No itching on my back which historically HATED the moisturizer. Just some where the oozy spots are, groin area.
    Made it to the grocery store and back with no pain and no itching!
    -Ruth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth, I'm not sure if I ever experienced itching immediately afterwards but I need to think more on it my mind is in a bit of a fog right now. I always add hot water at the 10 minute mark because I have found the temp seems to drop close to 90 by then and it does get rather chilly. I use just a regular meat thermometer for testing the water temp when I do my salt baths. Having the water a little on the warm side probably wouldn't cause the itching. I think it's just a one off thing and probably won't happen much again. It's been a while since I had the intense itch problem so have to think on whether I still itched after the baths or not. I'm sure if I did, it was less intense.

      The witch hazel seems to work well for me on those persistent oozing areas. Sometimes early on in tsw it takes some time to get them all to finally dry up. Tonight will suck but try to not scratch at all while doing MW. This is very important so you can heal all open sores. After your raw and open skin heal you'll be able to scratch without doing as much damage. Your skin will be super dry so just lightly rub if you feel the need to scratch. Lightly touching or rubbing my skin kept my hands busy and kept me from scratching. There isn't much that you can do to take your mind off it until you get past these initial two weeks.

      Delete
  13. ps: i used a couple drops of tea tree oil just to make sure as an added antiseptic, but now maybe I am sensitive to it??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never added anything to my bath when I use the salts. I think they have antiseptic properties. I don't know if adding a few drops of tea tree oil affects anything or not. I have added 1,000mg crushed vit c to help neutralize the chemicals in the tap water. It hasn't seemed to effect anything as far as the benefits I get from the baths. I highly doubt your itching is due to this. Always be sure to pat dry and not rub your skin with the towel.

      The Dss baths will not eliminate itching, only give some relief. They will help you heal your open skin breaks and splits more than anything. Stopping moisturizers should help the most with the itching.

      Delete
  14. Hey Dan,

    Actually, I am really psyched you cannot remember if you itched or not because look how FAR you've come since the early days! I hope I cannot remember someday so I can help someone else and pay it forward. I think also, Ingrid maybe, said the best thing she did for herself was *forget* about her skin as much as possible. It's easy to do when not itchy or or in pain, but the mind is a powerful thing and since I'm reasonably good about meditating an itch attack away, I need to harness that skill more.
    Doing ok otherwise for now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol, I had to go back and read my own blog! Here is a summary of what I experienced from what I had written:

      June 30th - My First Week Behind Me
      Today the skin on my hands, mainly the palms, is burning hot, itching like crazy, swollen and just sore as hell. The blood vessels are wide open especially at night when the body's histamine levels are at their highest levels. I'm using a Calendula salve as an emollient to try and help heal my open skin splits and fissures.

      July - first month under my belt
      It's been a horrible couple months. Every moisturizer I found seemed to irritate my skin. Things have stayed the same symptom wise other then a few weeks ago what appears to be real eczema popped up on my arms, legs and feet. It doesn't bother me at all.

      I decided to stop using moisturizers since I had a strong impression my skin splits weren't healing due to having the moisturizers on my skin all the time, and the stuff was just making my hands itch too much. Then all hell broke loose because my hands dried up so bad I couldn't bend some of the fingers without breaking my skin wide 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. I had to take a painkiller one day. I hate painkillers too. By the 4th day things were bearable and by about day 7 or 8 my skin breaks had all scabbed over and the scabs were starting to peel off day to day revealing new skin underneath. Whew! Now that's much better.

      August - 2 months in
      I saw my GP today for a follow up.

      He could see my hands were obviously better via NOT using topical steroids and even commented on how good they look.

      My hands are slowly improving but I'm having lots of nerve pain in them and an extremely difficult time sleeping more than 3 hours a night. The itching is so intense I can't even describe it.

      Delete
    2. Hey Ruth, do you have any pictures of your worst areas you can send? If not you may want to take some so you can look back on them 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now. I didn't think to do pictures until I was much better after MW in my second month but never the less glad I did do them at that time.

      Delete
  15. Ruth,
    I have done mediating on and off for at least 15 years and it does help. Mind over matter. In my early days of tsw I had what I call "hamburger hands". My skin barrier was totally destroyed on my palms and they were a cracked bloody mess. Swollen and inflamed. Burning hot and itched like nobody's business. So, my MW method is mainly meant for that kind of situation I guess. Once I quit moisturizing and did the MW routine things became 100% better for me despite the ongoing itching. As you can see it only took me 7-8 days to get a tremendous amount of relief from my symptoms. I think my guide should be used only as a guide, and people need to adjust it based on what they are trying to accomplish with their skin, according to their current symptoms. I hope that makes sense.

    I guess I'm saying some will find that showers are better than baths. Some will find Domboro solution works better for their oozing spots than does dss baths and/or witch hazel, etc.etc. Be careful though to not try to do too many different things. That's where we really get screwed up. Do the research, make your plan, and stick to it. Adjust a little here and there but be very careful about trying new things. The skin is hypersensitive and just needs to be left alone while it heals itself. We can aid in that healing or inhibit that healing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Dan,

    Well, I haven't had much itching tonight so far. I am super dry, but not in as much pain as i was anticipating. I understand about your hands. Before I learned about RSS/TSW, my hands and face were the worst parts. I would have horrible deep seated cuts in my hands and they would swell in the fall and winter months, no matter how often I moisturized…I would try to keep the steroids off but eventually I'd have to give in since no natural route was healing them. It strikes me as almost looney that this go around, every place on my body is itchy BUT my hands and feet which still have nice unlitchenfied skin and we are into December. I could barely move my hands for about 2-3 months last winter--they were enormously painful so I do understand what it must've been like for you--and my hands weren't anywhere near as bad as yours.
    I really want to get back to my gym classes. I've lost all my muscle tone thanks to this and have "elephant" skin. I am hoping to start up again slowly, but as you guessed, the sweating makes me itch fiercely. Still, I don't feel as dragging as I was last week. Maybe a good sign and small sign of healing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ruth, do you have any pictures of your worst areas you can send? If not you may want to take some so you can look back on them 3 months, 6 months, and a year from now. I didn't think to do pictures until I was much better after MW in my second month but never the less glad I did do them at that time. Also, tsa/tsw doesn't effect the liver that I'm aware of. Your blood work should show whether your liver is functioning normally. I have had past liver disease and am very careful with my liver's health so am very aware of most things that affect the liver.

      Delete
    2. Hi Dan,

      I had elevated liver enzymes, which is interesting because someone else on the Itsan board did too. My GP wasn't concerned about it, but I guess I was.
      I do have pics. I cannot send you email because I don't have my microsoft wizard set up on my Mac. If you give me your email, I could send them to you. My worst areas now are my back, backs of my knees, neck and face.
      But, you are right, I do have some photos from June right before I fell off the wagon and started *using* again and that was helpful because I had NO RED sleeve(s) like I do now. hmmmm..

      Delete
    3. ps: a naturopath told me recent antibiotic use can influence the liver enzymes..and I had just come off of antibiotics about a week or so before the test.

      Delete
    4. Hi Ruth,

      On the right hand side of every page on my blog is my privacy policy and a donate button. Under both of those is an email link to contact me. If you email me via that link I will email you back privately and you will have my personal email address. That way you can send me pictures and we can also talk privately when needed. Dan

      Delete
  17. Hi Dan,

    just sent you a message via hangouts…2nd attempt at bath this morning. Went OK, but I felt weird when I got out--dizzy and lightheaded. Bath water was tepid maybe a bit cold.. Stung this time for a long time. and then the itch attack started and it was horrendous. I did resort to the palm oil, sparingly, and ice cubes and am trying to come out of it now.
    I have to be honest, I feel pretty hopeless like nothing is going to work for me. I mean, at least other people actually got relief from vaseline or zinc cream or something. I get relief from nothing.
    On the bright side, I suppose, I had a decent night with only 3 Atarax, but I did wakeup itching a lot…but didn't tear skin too much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ruth,

      How are you doing today? Are you still doing the baths? Are you getting better yet? How long have you been off all moisturizers now? Your comments above elude to you not doing to well at that time, so was wondering what has changed for the better or worse since then.

      Delete
  18. Hi Dan--
    I want to begin by saying I have been following your blog for quite some time (and before your "banishment", I followed your comments on ITSAN). I find you are the best source for info about dealing with TSW and I could use some advise.

    I am at a difficult point in my progress. I stopped TS on July 28, 2013 and all moisturizers on 8/23/13. I don't use any soap and only Dr. Bonner on my hair. I don't bathe or shower--I clean up and shampoo at the sink. And I have most certainly have been improving. But this week it has been mostly below zero--one day wind chill was -40. My house is heated by forced air. So, net result--my skin is very dry and itchier than it has been. At night I have scratched skin that was pretty well healed and made it bleed and ooze. Any ideas? Going on vacation to the sun is not possible right now. Humidifiers are of very marginal value in this climate, despite what the advertisements say. Do you have any suggestions?
    Rose

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rose, thank you so much for the compliment! And thank you for asking me for advise. I would be more than happy to help.

      So you have 5 months under your belt! You should be very comfortable by now if you used my MW method correctly. I think the biggest problem is you are not using the dss baths as part of your regiment. At this point you don't need to do them very often, but they are the biggest guns in my arsenal for issues of skin breaks. And, water diluted tea tree oil for the persistent skin breaks the baths don't get.

      My house is heated the same way and I use a large humidifier to keep the humidity levels up when I feel a need to, but frankly I never do. If you use one in your bedroom at night it will work better than trying to raise the humidity in the whole house. It does help a little. I did use it for maybe a few days but it's not really all that important as many people think it is.

      I believe you could be experiencing a minor flare but not from the weather. These mini flares come and go and are unpredictable. Or, maybe you have been eating foods too high in histamines, or drinking alcohol? I don't know, you would have to elaborate on that. Drinking alcohol will really make you itch bad for a few days afterwards if you were to drink say a full bottle of wine. Less itching if drinking less. But if drinking a small amount every day or two that will really set your itching off even worse. The biggest things that seem to set flares off are stress, alcohol, and eating too many foods high in histamines, in that order.

      My suggestion is to use dss baths for two purposes. 1) to soothe and heal the skin when you have flares or breaks in your skin like with scratching too hard. 2) to rehydrate your skin once every day or so when it's irritated. When your skin is doing well don't do any baths or showers. Never bath or shower in hot water.

      Be sure to read my comment I posted on the dss benefits to the skin. And also check out my post on where to get a good home UVB lamp for just $250. That is really cheap for this particular model. If you can afford one you can mimic being at the Dead Sea and won't have to wait for the sun. Let me know what you think of my answer, or if you have any further questions. I don't know a whole lot about your skin's current condition and other things so I can't really be sure. But, what I'm suggesting would be very useful to you regardless.

      Delete
    2. Dear Dan,

      This is funny...
      I have some reservations about DSS. About 40 years ago I spend a month camping on the banks of the Dead Sea. In retrospect I think got too much sun and went in the water a few times without showering long enough afterward.

      So when I left Israel, I had a bad case of what the Greek doctor called "sun poisoning". I can't remember what the doctors gave me to cure it, but I do know after a couple of days of complete rest I was fine.

      So I am apprehensive about reliving the Dead Sea experience.

      I haven't changed my eating or drinking habits recently so I don't think its that. Most of my anxiety is TSW related and that's been going on since July.
      In theory I am old and wiser now so I think it may be time to give the Dead Sea another chance.

      Thanks Dan!
      Rose


      Delete
    3. Hi Rose,

      I know how past experiences like that can leave a lasting impression. I promise you will be glad you use the dss baths. But you have to buy the real stuff, and you have to use the correct amount of salt, correct tepid water temperature, etc. I have all the info on my blog but it's not organized well so please email me privately or on here for anything you want to know. There are little tips I know that I haven't posted on my blog as well.

      Buy 60 pounds of the course grain natural salt from sfsc. It's only $88 including shipping. Best deal there is and you will be glad you bought that much a couple weeks from now. Buying 20 pounds is half that price and only lasts for 10 baths. Call the customer service number and ask for Michelle. Tell her I referred you and ask her if she will ship it USPS Priority, instead of UPS ground. That way you will get it by Monday or Tuesday. Also, pick her brain on the subject. She is an extremely friendly person and extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Just so you know, I get no referral fees or anything else from referring people to this company. Please be sure to read the new post I just posted minutes ago too. Good luck! I'm always here if you need me.

      Delete
  19. Hi Dan--
    I bit the bullet and ordered the DSS. They should arrive Wed which is fine because I won't be home M and Tu.
    My skin was nearly perfect for 30 days, so I may be over-reacting to this new itchiness and flare-up. Also, every winter I get itchy hands because I wash my hands alot but do not dry them up thoroughly. This lasts until I force myself to take the time to dry them properly.
    I'm excited about the DSS. I'll read your blog super well and with your permission I'll get back to you with any remaining questions.
    Thanks so much Dan. I really needed some inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Dan,
    I came across your blog recently after my "eczema" started getting way out of hand. I am now almost one week into my TSW. Luckily, I had been using only the relatively weak over the counter hydrocortisone in combination with a lot of different moisturizers (and only for about four to five months) to treat my skin ailments. Unfortunately, I'm having a very tough time with attempting MW. I'm an analytical chemist and therefor do a lot of lab work, which requires wearing nitrile gloves for a large portion of my workday and also taking gloves on and off multiple times a day. I realize I'm still very early on in my TSW, but just the thought of swapping gloves without the use of any moisturizers during the day is already making me shudder. I'm considering scheduling an appointment with a derm soon to discuss possible options (WITHOUT steroids, of course), but I just wanted to let you know how helpful your blog is for people like me. You give me hope for the future. I took my first DSS bath today and found it to be quite beneficial. Thanks again, and I look forward to delving more into your other blog posts.
    -Devon

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    Replies
    1. Hi Devon,
      Eczema is a rare condition in adulthood and I have to wonder if you actually have eczema and not just a rash induced from something you may have an allergy to, like the gloves you wear, or something atopic. We ARE allergic to most all poisons lol. They are in everything from gloves you may be wearing, to the laundry detergent you are using. Eczema is purely a childhood phenomenon, likely due to genetics. Most people are misdiagnosed though in adulthood by doctors and dermatologists when it comes to skin rashes and their causes. Every derm is going to tell you the same thing so don't expect any good alternatives from a derm because all they know is to throw steroids and immune suppressants at the perceived problem. And another fav is Protopic. Don't fall for that one either. They just do what they are taught in med school. Big Pharma plays a big role in what is taught to doctors. You need to get to the root of the problem after you recover from the damage the ts and the moisturizers have caused. Or, during. I really wish I could give you a better answer but I'm afraid there is no easy way out of this.

      I have seen people like yourself who have used very little ts for a short period of time heal very quickly. But not without a good 2-3 weeks of some serious pain and suffering from ceasing the use of moisturizers. You're screwed if you continue using the moisturizers as I suspect you now realize. If I were you I would grin and bear it. Two to three weeks of extra pain at work is better than months or years of pain. Better if you can take two weeks off work but sometimes that isn't an option.

      Another option is to wear the super thin 100% organic cotton gloves I recommend, with the nitrile gloves over them at work. You can email me privately if you like. You would have to send me your email in a post to this blog which I wouldn't publish. Then I have your email, and can email you from my private account. Either way, best of luck and feel free to pick my brain anytime. I hope this has helped.

      Delete
    2. Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the reply. I'm a little concerned with my condition at the moment. My hands went from red, flaring and feeling like a sunburn with oozing to shedding and now it looks like they're heading back to the flaring and oozing. Many little red bumps which look somewhat like pimples or acne have spread up both of my arms to the bicep and it looks like they're starting to spread to my chest and torso. I have terrible dry patches around the base of my neck. I only ever used the hydrocortisone cream on my hands. I'm only 2 weeks into TWS and I never imagined it would get this bad. I scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist for next week in a state of panic. Is this really how bad it is for everyone? One symptom I don't feel is itchiness. The backs of my hands look like they're covered with two red, scaly gloves right now and my arms are a mess with what looks like a terrible case of acne. Is this situation similar to what you experienced in the early stages of TSW?
      Thanks again,
      Devon

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  21. Hi Devon, this all sounds familiar but I would urge you to be checked for any kind of infection. The little red bumps doesn't sound right to me. But yes, this is similar to what I experienced when I started tsw, only I had intense itching to go along with it. Until I stopped the ts the rash was limited to just my hands. But after ceasing ts it spread up my arms and broke out on both legs. Very difficult for me to say without seeing pictures. You'll have to judge for yourself from other people's pictures I guess. I certainly would see a Derm just to rule out an infection or anything not related to typical tsw symptoms. Best of luck. Let me know how it goes.

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    1. Thanks again for the reply, Dan. I didn't want to respond with an update too quickly; I don't think i need to tell you that things don't change over night with this recovery. I ended up going to the dermatologist. Of course, she couldn't fathom that only over the counter hydrocortisone had done this to me and wanted me to start using more potent topical steroid. I refused and got a prescription for an antibiotic pill instead just in case, though I'm fairly certain I don't have any infection at this point. The red bumps on my arms turned to dry, light pink, scaly skin--my arms look much better already. Unfortunately my hands are lagging behind. I'm just about 4 weeks into this. The redness on my hands has calmed down only slightly. I go through cycles of dry, shedding, scaly skin and red inflamed skin. I take DSS baths 4 to 5 times a week. I hope to be able to scale that back soon. Gosh, I really hope to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel... I've grown incredibly self conscious about my skin. Anyway, I just thought I'd give you an update on how things are going. Best.

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    2. Hi Devon,
      Sounds like you are still experiencing the initial response when stopping topical steroids. This typically lasts about 4-6 weeks I think. I wouldn't be surprised if the redness leaves soon and things level off to a very manageable state. It is of the utmost importance to protect the hands from water, soap, moisturizers, etc., during the entire recovery period. I think you'll be fine in a few weeks since you used so little in comparison to many I've seen. Best!

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    3. Hi Dan,
      I figured I would check in with you again. I really don’t know where else to turn right now. I hope you don’t mind. Anyway, I’m currently 1 month, 17 days into my TSW. From what I can tell, the rebound effects have almost completely subsided; that is, the areas where I never applied any hydrocortisone are pretty much back to the way they were before every stopping. Only some minor itchiness occurs every so often. However, the areas where I actually applied the hydrocortisone (that is, the backs of both of my hands and fingers) are suffering. My left hand is doing much better than my right. I think this can be explained by the fact that I started applying the hydrocortisone on my right hand before I did on my left. After all, a small patch of dry skin/eczema on my right ring finger is what started this whole mess. Also, since I am right handed, I use my right hand more than my left—this might also delay healing. I’m very concerned about the state of my right hand. My left hand is doing OK; it’s certainly not healed, but I can do most things I could before starting TSW without much discomfort. My right hand, however, is terrible. I can’t even form a fist with this hand, as my ring and pointer fingers can barely bend right now. I just experienced over a week of oozing and crusting on the back of the hand. The smell of the ooze was extremely off putting. Today, after a DSS bath, these large patches of ooze and crust started peeling off, revealing shiny, thin, red/pink skin—not at all what I had hoped to see. And it’s starting to ooze slightly again.
      I’ve been working since starting TSW. As a chemist, I have to do a lot of lab work, which requires the use of gloves. I’ve been wearing white cotton gloves underneath my nitrile gloves when going back in the lab to do bench work. Putting on the gloves is difficult, but after a certain amount of time, my hands regain the flexibility that they lost when starting TSW. I guess this is due to the warm, humid, sweaty environment in the gloves. I usually go back in the lab for hours (up to 5 or 6) at a time. Then it comes time to take the gloves off. After removing the gloves, my hands are bright red and make it look like as if they had been sitting in water for hours on end. The smell of the ooze (when present) is nauseating. Within minutes, my hands dry out completely, leaving me barely able to bend any fingers. It is extremely uncomfortable and it makes it difficult for me to even write or type at my computer.
      I’ve mentioned to my supervisor what I’m going through. I would really like to take some time off from work so that my hands (particularly my right hand) can heal. My supervisor said that it could be possible to apply for short or long term disability. However, this would require the support and approval of a doctor. I don’t think I need to tell you that this might be difficult to obtain. The dermatologist that I visited about a month ago was not on board with doing TSW, as I may have mentioned in a previous comment. The process of scheduling an appointment with a derm/doctor takes long enough as it is; finding one who is cooperative with the “treatment” that I want to pursue—not using anything on my skin and basically giving my hands a break—could take months on end. That’s time I could have just used to heal instead by taking care of things the more drastic way—quitting. Of course, I would much rather not go this route. I graduated from college last May, I’ve been working at my current position since August and things are going really great at work (save dealing with TSW and bad hands).
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  22. Hi Devon, I don't want to post your email here so will not publish your second comment which contains it. I will email you directly asap.

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  23. I just thought I would give an update here since this is the post I originally commented on ~3 months ago. Dan graciously took the time and effort to email me on a daily basis back when I was really struggling with TSW. I'm at 4 months TSW now and am doing fantastic. Without Dan's guidance, I don't know where I would be now. There's really something to his methods. Dan shot an email to me the other day just to check up with me and how I was doing. Here's the message that I sent back:

    "Hey Dan,

    Apologies for the late reply; I was out of town for the holiday weekend. I'm doing OK. Starting to feel like I'm getting my hands back. Week by week, I can see slight improvement. Left hand is fantastic, only a slight redness lingers. Otherwise, I can do anything with my left hand that I could before TS came into the picture. Hence, no more pictures of the left hand. Right hand is still a (sightly) mess, but it's starting to feel better for sure and I can do lots more with it now. In some lighting, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with it, but in bright white light you can see that it's still pretty pinkish-red with lots of dry skin. I made the mistake of dabbing a small amount of moisturizer on the back of my right hand the other day (just to see what would happen) and I lit up red like a stoplight and burned. Won't be doing that again needless to say. After a bath and a day or two's time, I was back to where I was before luckily.

    I finally talked to a doctor who might be on board with the whole TSW thing, but at this point, there's really not much use. Thanks mostly to you, I know what I need to do from here on out until I'm back to what I consider to be normal functioning. (I completed the biggest task almost 4 months ago--no more steroids!) There's nothing he can really do for me at this point. I've got methods that work for me, based in large part on the methods you've related to me. And for that I'm extremely grateful. Do you have an Amazon Wish List or something like that by any chance? I feel that I owe you something for the time you've taken out for me. If not, please let me know how I show my gratitude. And please don't be a modest bastard about it.

    I appreciate the follow up.

    Best,

    Devon"

    I was very desperate when I made my first comments here on Dan's blog. I had no idea what I was in for. I'm in a much better place now. If anyone wants to see pictures of my progress, don't hesitate to ask. I still take pictures every week or so to remind myself how far I've come.

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  24. Just coming across this blog as I read up ANYTHING that will help my 2 year old daughter and her TSW. It's terrible and we have done a great job of managing it but it's not going away. She was using Vanicream lotion but that was giving her red patches all over and I was giving her jojoba/coconut oil baths. The baths just made her red as well but would go down overnight. Of course it is hard to keep a 2 year old to refrain from itching, but I think I am going to try the no moisturizers approach. What kind of care do you recommend for a 2 year old? Please help! ��
    -Jennifer

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    1. Hi Jennifer, another victim of the medical est. Just pisses me off to no end when I hear about small children who have been "steered" this way by lousy doctors advice. Why the hell is a 2 year old using topical steroids? I assume (no doubt in my mind)because a doctor recommended them to you.

      First of all,the Vanicream has known skin barrier damaging chemicals (check both active and inactive ingredients) in it online. This product should be 100% avoided by everyone imho. Very nasty stuff. The skin is super hypersensitive while in tsw and ANYTHING applied to it will irritate it. Not to mention, smothering the skin keeps the skin from being able to function normally, therefore, it prolongs the problem and delays healing to a great extent. Not to mention the horrendous increased itching they it causes.

      Please read these links to get a full understanding of how the skin functions. Then you will understand why putting moisturizers on even healthy skin for prolonged periods of time (30 days or more) is damaging to the skin.

      http://www.ivyroses.com/HumanBody/Skin/Functions-of-the-Skin.php

      http://www.ivyroses.com/HumanBody/Skin/Skin-Glands.php

      Go to this site and ask for Michelle when you call. The 60lb bags are a killer deal, and you will likely need that much or more.

      http://www.sfsalt.com/inc/sdetail/minera---60-lbs/105/108

      I have outlined many times throughout my blog how to do dss baths "correctly". Check that info out while you wait for your salts. Also, read about the benefits on their website. Ask Michelle to ship free priority mail. If you live outside the US, let me know and I'll give you a place where you can buy dss in your country.

      If you need personal guidance just repost and include your email and I won't publish it and just email you directly.

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    2. Jennifer, I am currently going through TSW. I am sorry your sweet two year old is going through this. I would HIGHLY recommend the no moisturizer approach. It helped me so much and my skin improved dramatically! The first couple of weeks were rough but once you get past that it is SO worth it. This means zero moisturizer, nothing at all. I also did dead sea salt soaks and that helped me heal even faster. Praying for you and your little one! Take care.

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  25. Thank you Dan!
    It has been so frustrating since she was 7 months old. She had severe eczema so of course I was referred to a dermatologist and they made it seem like this would be a great solution to something that would clear up in no time. I was so wrong! Not only was I not able to afford the cream with our insurance anymore, I felt better knowing I wasn't putting that crap on her anymore. So now we are paying for it and having to watch her go through TSW. Breaks my heart!
    I started today not putting ANYTHING on her skin. As far as a regimen while she is going through both the steroid and moisturizer withdrawl, is there anything besides the dss baths that I could do? Don't have the $$ for it right now but anything to make her more comfortable. Would she benefit from just acv baths?

    Thank you!
    Jennifer

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