Monday, December 9, 2013

Guide to Withdrawing From Moisturizers

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: 01-12-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No moisturizer. I cannot emphasize this enough.

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

Msm supplementation

Being busy but stress free.

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


  1. Thanks for publishing this Dan. A little history.

    My first withdrawal: after 21 years of daily steroid use of varying strengths I went cold turkey off them after a naturopath and my boyfriend insisted they were making me sick. All he'll broke loose of course and it took 9 months for me to look pretty normal and 15 months for completely perfect skin. No moisturizing, just comfrey cream on cut up areas. I never oozed.
    I do recall a gp saying I would die of a skin infection if I didn't use antibiotics and go back on the steroids. I ignored that, my skin healed. It's always scary and I know a lot of people take antibiotics I just didn't believe it was an infection. I had no fever, although I looked scary. That scary scabby phase lasted about a month or two. I also never took baths, just quick showers every few days.

    Second withdrawal after over ten years of perfect rash and steroid free skin: wedding jitters brough on a massive full body rash. Gp prescribed steroids, desperate I slathered them all over. Instant rebound. Burning skin, red, I was screaming as I got in the shower. Felt like hell had descended on me, couldn't believe my skin was burning again after a decade of normal living. He prescribed stronger steroids over about three months, eventually suggesting Prednisone. I had enough and stopped all cold turkey. Again no moisturizing, no baths, just waited it out. At nine months I was back to normal.

    Third withdrawal: 2012 had a strange itchy rash on upper inner arm, after starting hot yoga. Gp said given my history it must be eczema. I said I thought it was fungal. Desperate for relief I took the ts cream. Rash faded but suddenly itchy shoulder blades. Then back. Started a part time job at a cafe, had to use strong detergents all day long. Brutal dermatitis on hands erupted, put ts on that. But it didn't work. Got a stronger ts, it worked but only if I put it on 5x a day or more. Suddenly rash on arms, legs, face. Was burning all over by winter 2013. Putting bentnovate all over me especially eyelids and mouth area 3x a day or more. Wrists it was a constant moisturizer of bentnovate all day long.

    My husband said, he thought the steroids were causing the madennjbg rash. Googled it and found jakes blog. The penny dropped. I realized what had happened when I was younger had been tsw. Quit cold turkey march 2013. Also quit my job the same day because I knew what was coming next.

  2. Hi Jsan,
    Thanks for posting your story and also recovery. You look fantastic! I found Dan's blog 2 days ago when I was wondering why at 2.5 months, I just seem to have gotten worse to worse to awful with full on elephant skin, intense and crazy itching, some oozing on the backs of my knees (funny…haven't had *eczema* there since I was a child) face dry and peeling and itchy/tingly.
    I noticed red patches on my face and sporadic "flares" where my face would get tight--I could hardly move it and sometimes one eye or the other would be swollen for a day. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I am now assuming that my sporadic use of corticosteroids would make the rashes disappear for months only to return if I wasn't "using".
    I figured all this out this past June (2013), but my Derm convinced me to go on low strength lipid locoid cream to get the patches away. I was on it all summer even though I told him I was itching off the medication. Finally, it began to burn fiercely and I stopped. Switched Derms and got a Kenalog shot in September (my first. ) THat offered about 10 days and then rebound. I'm red-or really tan everywhere because I was also doing conjunctive UVB therapy, but the red sleeves appeared in early October and I stopped topicals or any steroids altogether.
    Today, I am gearing up my nerves to take my first DSS bath per Dan's good encouragement. Moisturizers make me very itchy--all of them. I had been using Vanicream and maybe getting a few hours of respite a day, but think I'm going to do the baths now and deal with drying out. Heck, I'm already so dried out I have elephant skin behind my knees, elbows and the front of my shoulders.
    You look like you are doing amazing now. I would give anything for non-broken skin that was just red..but I am cut up.
    Thanks for your good post.
    How long did it take for Quercetin to work and how many ounces of water do you drink a day? I'm trying to go for 120oz a day--…

    1. Ruth, think everyone whether they moisturize or not generally gets worse within that initial 3 month period, with some improvement and then another bad phase. I don't think it's worth focusing too much on day to day changes at this stage.

      I don't know what you mean about improvement from the quercetin. I'm not approaching myself as a science experiment, because quite frankly there are far too many variables in everybody's life to say x is the thing that changed things. And most importantly I want to get well as soon as possible. My self experimenting will prove nothing beyond my own theorizing that maybe it worked for me.

      From the start I've tried whatever seems reasonable to me and within my budget. For example I tried Chinese herbs and am pretty sure they were helping me, but at $100 a visit and with insurance no longer covering them I had to stop. I read that quercetin helps repair blood vessels and is a natural antihistamine and most importantly was affordable to me. So I take it.

      I reasoned that moisturizers and oils were making me progressively drier and irritated based on my own observations of my body. So I stopped them. Again it's not science, it's not definitive but it worked for me. That being said, there IS now actual science behind it thanks to research by the Japanese tsw experts.

      As for water, I simply drink all day long and always have. No idea how much, maybe 3 liters a day of filtered water in winter.

      Try to relax, the first 3 or 6 months are hellish, but distract yourself as much as possible. This will pass and you'll be back to normal before you know it.

      Take care,

    2. Thanks Jsan for your response. I appreciate your perspective and input. It's true, I'm feeling like I'm in you know where right now with no end in sight and no doctor agreeing with my decision…but I figure it cannot get much worse, and it can only go up from here…I'm hoping to have some relief from the DSS. Dan has been most helpful based on his personal experience.

    3. You are the only one that can do this work and have faith in your body's ability to heal. It's a hard road. Finally I agree with dan, self medicate to reduce the stress to whatever extent you are comfortable. I know some people have medical marihuana that works for them. For me dark chocolate and a glass of red wine give me a nice relaxed feeling. Get comfortable it's a long trip. As someone who's done this three times now (!!) I'd say balance the health effects with the mental effects. So sugar is inflammatory and I avoid it, but dark chocolate sweetened with honey makes me feel mentally happy. Good luck!

    4. Hi Jsan,

      Sadly, wine was the first trigger that something was wildly off in my body. I would itch like the dickens anytime I had just a bit. I mean, even 1/3 glass. So no wine for me till I am well over some hurdles. Chocolate makes me itch too so I cut it down, not out. I need to have some mental gratification at least. I have to live in the guest room.
      I took a DSS bath today per Dan's rec'ds. Am pleased to say it cut down on the itch and no odor today..but I also didn't moisturize. I am hoping for a better night sleep tonight than I've had in the last 2 years. You seemed to have escaped elephant skin--which I have now-and I've lost muscle tone due to no energy and not being able to get to the gym and sweat. Sweat causes an itch attack, but I'm hoping to be able to go back this or next week and start slowly up again. I haven't felt as overwhelmingly tired as I did last month. Maybe a good sign.
      I would like to see what herbs might be useful for helping the liver and adrenal glands next. I am sure those are functioning poorly. I took a Quercetin today too…and maybe will start taking two or three a day. I have also been making green smoothies and drinking about 12oz every day, maybe I'll up it a bit.
      Wish I could drink wine again but I think that is out for me. It's amazing you've lived thru this THREE times. Geesh!

  3. I couldn't touch alcohol or chocolate for the first seven or so months. Suddenly it stopped making me itch which was amazing! At the beginning out immune system is hypersensitive and we are also sensitive to histamines. It settles down toward the end. I do have elephant skin on my hands and above my knees. It goes away eventually. Hang in there :)