Monday, December 16, 2013

Six Month Topical Steroid Withdrawal Picture Update

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. You're doing fantastic!!! Moisturizer withdrawal is absolutely the way to go, no doubt.

    1. Thanks jsan! Ever since I did MW I have been 100% more comfortable and now nearly healed at 6 months. If I stay the same as I am now for the next year I don't really care as I haven't had much of a difficult time since about month 3-4. But, I feel pretty confident I will be posting pictures of my steroid induced eczema free hands within the next several weeks.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Ingrid! I hope you are doing well. Your pictures suggest you are!

    2. Hey Ingrid, you haven't posted pics n a few days. Your hands looked really good on the last pics. Everything still going well? I'm sure many are busy with the Holidays. Be well!

  3. Dan

    Great job! Dan has been kind enough to coach me thru MW for the last 2 weeks. Thanks to Dans' solid encouragement and patience, my skin is starting to heal over and get strong again. I do have more itching than he did, but I haven't put any moisturizer on my face in about a week and that is the longest its' ever been without moisturizer for YEARS now. I take 1 DSS bath a day. I itch mid-way in the bath, but try to control it and stay my full 20minutes. I immediately itch out of the bath, but pat dry and run into my bed where I let my body regulate to normal temperature. Thanks to TSW, I have chills a lot of the day accompanied by a cold feeling all the time…I notice when my body needs to regulate temps, I itch. No moisturizer seems really counter to any kind of logic or comfort factor, but I'm a lot more comfortable without it than with.
    I've only been doing this a week.. next week, I hope to be that much better since I visit my Derm and want to look pretty good for that appt!!
    Thanks again Dan. you look incredible!! YAY!

    1. Those chills at the beginning were crazy, especially on a hot day. I remember shivering on the beach at the start of summer.

      It's a great idea to jump straight into bed after the bath. Because you also give your body time to make some oils. I still do this in the evening. I take a quick 5 minute shower, dry off, put on my pjs and curl up in bed. At first my skin is still tight, but about half and hour later or so, it is completely smooth and supple. Eventually that timeframe gets shorter and shorter as the oil production normalizes. Til eventually you can spend an hour in the shower if you want, dry off, and have perfect smooth skin. I should know, I had perfect skin without moisturizers before I used ts. Every night while living in Japan I took part in the evening bathing ritual like my neighbors, of showering, hot tub, showering, sauna, showering, hot tub etc for at least an hour. Then going home toasty and relaxed. And of course moisturizer-free! This is all in your future :)

    2. Thanks Ruth! I hope you are doing better today. Progress in tsw doesn't seem to be something that can easily be measured in days as easily as it can be in weeks. I know the first several days of MW can be difficult. But, it's difficult anyway as it is, so by making this leap of faith you will find it well worth the extra effort for the long term comfort that lies ahead for you!

  4. Hi Ruth,

    Just checking to see how things are going. Are you staying off the moisturizers? Any skin breaks or open wounds? The true key to a more comfortable and quicker recovery is staying off all moisturizers. The baths, tea tree oil etc are for managing the tsw. Just do the baths frequently if you have open or flaring skin, and infrequently if your skin breaks are fully healed. I hope I haven't confused you on this.

    Also, you can take from both mine and jitka's mw guide's and find what works best for you. Or combine them. They are very similar except for I prefer the dss baths and she prefers Epsom salt baths or just showers. I think it all depends on the condition of the skin on how one wants to approach it. Looking forward to hearing how you are doing!


  5. Hi Dan,

    Bad 2 days..sadly. Two very itchy all the time days. Not sure why. Still, I'll take a DSS bath today and maybe try with Epsom salts this week--though historically those have made me itch too. I have open, meaty looking skin on the backs of my knees and inside my arms and a bit on my neck so it makes me think I should be doing baths daily, 1x a day. The skin itself does look better to me. Everyone commented in my family last night that my face, more or less, looks much more even toned, much less red and less flaky. It also feels less dry and I can move my mouth to eat and chew! IT is just this constant itch that is driving me insane. I used to get at least a few hours a day before with no itch…maybe this is sign the skin is pushing up damaged skin and trying to flake it off quickly. Not sure.
    I will consider the tea tree oil again however it really burned last time and has made me shy about trying it again. Maybe I should dilute it.
    How are you?

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Sorry to hear about the itching. It should subside gradually. The itch is still with me and is almost the only symptom I have left, other than a little rash on top of my hands that doesn't bother me, other than it will itch a little at night. If I eat much sugar, or any foods high in histamines, I scratch my hands in my sleep due to increased itchiness. If I don't, it seems to be much less to none. I noticed all my symptoms slowly and gradually improve by a week to week basis until they just finally disappeared. The pain has been gone for quite a while now, and my sleep is improving by leaps and bounds. The deep intense itch is all gone. It was a slow gradually thing.

      The dss baths will make your skin itchy, but it's itchy anyway right? So, if you have open wounds the baths and tea tree oil should get them closed up and then you can back off of the baths. I had to experiment a lot but found that I needed daily baths until my wounds healed and then I would back off and just use tea tree oil and witch hazel.

      I would definitely dilute the tea tree oil with water if using on any areas larger than a tiny spot. It will get those persistent spots healed and then you can stop doing salt baths and let your skin adjust. Then, things will improve quicker.

  6. One more thing, though. It has been less than 2 weeks and certainly, less than one month…so not sure it is fair to judge yet. I just don't understand the intensity of the increase in itching..but hopeful this too shall pass!

    1. On the intensity of the itch. It drove me nearly insane. In my first couple months when I was using moisturizers it was the worst and I had to use ice constantly to relieve it. After doing MW and my wounds closing, it continued, but not so intense that I had to use ice. I have only had to use it once or twice since doing MW. I basically kept myself self medicated for the whole journey and that really helped me. Hang in there, it will get better!

    2. Hi Dan,

      So, I've had a struggle of hugely itchy skin for the last 3 days, last night being a paramount carnival of no sleep and non-stop itch..but I had my Derm appt and he was REALLY impressed with how much better I looked. So he said "So, what are you doing? UVB?" and I said "Nope…I'm using Dan D's soon to be famous DSS/Moisturizer Withdrawl" method." He and his nurse asst could not believe the change in my face--first off. I was serious about what a leap my face has taken--tonewise and also so much less red. Still dry, but each day gets stronger…Also, my stomach is all but healed now-also impressed the Derm and he thought even my arms and legs looked better despite damage made last night. He was very supportive and happy to see me making progress.
      What I think at this point is that for me, not being able to get Sunshine right now directly affecting my less than perfect -or matched to you--outcome. The areas of my skin that are not rashed up are just a bit dry now and some parts are smooth. No odor unless I scratch, and maybe 1 or 2 teeny blisters, but not infection. The bath stung like crazy all 20 minutes yesterday but I managed thru. I'm going to increase my fruits and veggies (raw vs. cooked) as well as I think there is some validity to diet changes that would be helpful at this point. Gluten free would probably help too. I'm not sure I'll take a bath today but certainly I will tomorrow. Maybe skipping one day will be OK today. It is somewhat warm here today at 53 degrees so I'm not particularly bone dry at the moment either….
      I just wanted to mention that I'd had a good visit with the Derm and he was supportive and will see me again in a months' time…but he was amazed that DSS was the only treatment I was using, beyond no moisturizer!!

    3. Hi Ruth,

      That really put a smile on my face! Thank you so much! I agree with your assessment of sun exposure and the only thing you can do is get a home UVB light. I know of the manufacturer of these, so if you decide to get one let me know and I'll send you a link. If I had one I'm pretty sure what existing rash I have on top of my hands would be gone by now. I tried to get my insurance to pay for it but they are only willing to reimburse me after I pay for it. I don't trust them and don't have the extra $ so decided to just forget about it. I'm almost there now anyway.

      I'm really surprised these baths make you sting so much and can't help but wonder if you are doing something differently, or maybe have a tremendous amount of chlorine in your water? It's perplexing to me. When I had deep fissures bleeding on my hands, I craved the baths for their soothing effect. It never stung that much and by the end of the 20 minutes I would always have zero pain or sting. I would notice that my cuts and wounds would sting immediately upon rinsing though. I always contributed that to the chlorine in my water. I haven't purchased a filter yet and would advise everyone that has chlorine in their water to purchase either a filter for the incoming water line to the house, or separate filters for the bath and kitchen.

      The tea tee oil will make those teeny blisters disappear. Just judge how frequently you do the baths according to how you feel. Without sun, this is the only way I know how to dry the skin enough so the open wounds will start healing. And, the tea tree oil. I always waited until my skin dried out completely from the baths, and then use the tea tree oil on any remaining sore areas. Thanks for making my day Ruth!

  7. For those who have issues with oozing....

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

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

  8. Hello Everyone following Dan's great success story!

    I'd like to update with my own. I just passed the 4 month mark; (Jan 1). MW was not an easy teaspoon of medicine to swallow, but I'm delighted to have stuck with it-thanks in large part--to Dan's encouragement and confidence I would yield the same positive results he has had. I'm here to say it worked for me too!

    My face is pretty much back to normal, though it is dry.

    Body has some rough areas, but I don't have the insane itching attacks I was getting during the summer months and early - mid Fall..where even dosed with Atarax--I'd still have many, many sleepless nights and no energy during the day.

    ENERGY! Yes folks, you read that right. My energy appears to have come back where the last thing I want to do in the morning or afternoon is take a nap. This follows MONTHS of lethargy and lack of motivation. Heck, I'm going to the gym tomorrow and starting up again with my workouts!

    HOPE! I don't have this as bad as many folks, but I cannot, simply cannot imagine enduring this situation month after month after month...and when I read peoples' blogs, it was depressing and daunting and discouraging to think I was going to be in the for another year before I *might* see some relief...

    I am able to take the DSS baths every couple of days now. Clearly, that will change after a workout..but after the Winter, I have to think by Springtime I'll be ready for sunshine in order to really complete this process.

    Thanks Dan and folks just do it! Take the plunge!