Saturday, December 7, 2013

Should I Use Moisturizers During Topical Steroid Withdrawal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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