Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Is Eczema And How Can We Best Manage It?
What is Eczema?

Dermatitis (Greek: δερματίτις dermatitis "(disease) of skin," from δέρμα derma "skin") or eczema (Greek: ἔκζεμα ekzema "eruption") is inflammation of the skin. It is characterized by itchy, erythematous, vesicular, weeping, and crusting patches. The term eczema is also commonly used to describe atopic dermatitis[1][2] or atopic eczema.[3]

In some languages, dermatitis and eczema are synonyms, while in other languages dermatitis implies an acute condition and eczema a chronic one.[4]

The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions. These include dryness and recurring skin rashes that are characterized by one or more of these symptoms: redness, skin swelling, itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding. Areas of temporary skin discoloration may appear and are sometimes due to healed injuries. Scratching open a healing lesion may result in scarring and may enlarge the rash.
Definition of ATOPY

: a genetic disposition to develop an allergic reaction (as allergic rhinitis, asthma, or atopic dermatitis) and produce elevated levels of IgE upon exposure to an environmental antigen and especially one inhaled or ingested
What is atopy? Sidestepping semantics.


Atopy may be viewed as the manifestation of a still-undefined defect. It is characterized by certain clinical findings and frequently by derangements of the immune and autonomic nervous systems. The atopic diseases are a group of seemingly unrelated conditions--eczema, asthma, rhinitis, and perhaps hypertrophic sinusitis, vernal conjunctivitis, and migraine--which cluster in individuals and families. In the respiratory tract and eye, eosinophils in tissues and secretions are characteristic and are not dependent on the presence of immediate hypersensitivity. Symptoms suggestive of mast-cell mediator release are common to all the atopic diseases, and there is some evidence that nonimmunologic mediator release is enhanced in atopic patients. In the most clearly defined atopic diseases, eczema and asthma, approximately 80% of patients have increased IgE responses to normal environmental allergens. Accompanying and perhaps underlying the enhanced IgE responses are deficiencies of T cell numbers and function, particularly in suppressor T lymphocytes. Evidence exists that decreased beta 2-adrenergic function and increased cholinergic and alpha-adrenergic responsiveness accompany and perhaps underlie the atopic diseases, whether allergic or nonallergic.

My Thoughts:
I had childhood eczema, and both eczema and asthma runs in my family. It's obviously genetics in our case. The ways I learned to mange my eczema growing up were far better than treating it with drugs that only make it worse. I am referring to potent topical steroids, over the counter Hydrocortisone, and the like. Eczema is something some of us have to learn to live with and learn to treat in natural ways. Treating it with these powerful drugs only makes things much worse in the long run. It's very obvious that the medical community doesn't know what actually causes it but it's been around for centuries and people have managed fine without their toxic chemicals that only treat symptoms and not the actual causes.

These pharmaceutical companies along with the assistance of their crony buddy politicians and greedy Dermatologists will do whatever it takes to convince you to take their drugs. They are in it to make money. And believe me this is a huge money making business. And I mean HUGE! Everything from all the different drugs they have developed and continue to develop, to the propaganda about moisturizing. Big, big business.

Allow me to repeat something I posted recently.

Conceit, Arrogance And Bigotry

"The great tragedy of orthodox medicine is that doctors have always been suspicious of anything new and often reluctant to listen to theories and ideas which contradict traditional attitudes.

From Paracelsus to Lind to Semmelweiss, medical history is littered with doctors who learned the hard way that the medical establishment does not take kindly to original ideas or to new concepts which threaten the status quo.

Medical students are taught that they should avoid asking uncomfortable questions and young doctors who wish to succeed know that they must remain unquestioningly faithful to the established truths.

Any physician who rocks the boat, makes waves or swims against the tide will soon find himself floundering in deep water - and struggling to survive! To be successful in our society a physician must respect the prejudices of his elders, adhere to the dogma of his teachers and shut his mind to theories which do not fit in with orthodox medical doctrines.

Modern medicine is, much like the black magic medicine of the middle ages, an unstructured, unscientific discipline in which uncertainty, confusion and ignorance are too often disguised with conceit, arrogance and bigotry.

At a time when the half-life of medical information is shrinking and the limits of traditional, interventionist medicine are daily becoming more and more apparent, this ostrich-type behaviour is difficult to understand and impossible to justify.

Unless doctors are prepared to consider the unexpected, the unlikely and even the apparently impossible, patients must regard rigidly orthodox interventionists with a certain amount of suspicion and cynicism."

I think this sums up the problem quite well. So, if you really want to manage your eczema in the most effective ways, stay away from doctors and learn how to avoid the things that you have learned that make your skin break out. Don't believe the hype about using moisturizers. They are almost as bad for your skin as topical steroids are. Remember, childhood eczema dies out for the most part when we get to our late teens. If you are an adult past the age of say about 20, and you still have eczema, it is not eczema. It's a rash caused by ts called "steroid induced eczema". If you are an adult and never had childhood eczema but had a rash appear seemingly out of nowhere. Don't go to the doctor and allow them to prescribe topical steroids or you will regret it. Just figure out what caused the rash and eliminate the problem. Once the cause is eliminated the rash will disappear. Same with childhood eczema. Once you identify what you are allergic to just stay away from those things. And getting allergy tests isn't the answer in my opinion. Those tests are usually misleading.

If you have a newborn baby with a rash, for God's sake don't allow your doctor to tell you to put anything on it! Every single thing on the market for babies is toxic. From topical steroids to baby oil. Vaseline, you name it. They all have toxic ingredients that exacerbate the problem. Even if they didn't have the toxic ingredients, they don't and can't work. Rashes go away on their own if allowed to. There are also natural methods that can take care of all these things. From Dead Sea salt soaks to colloidal oat soaks. And many many other natural methods. Eating the right foods is a major contributor to healthy skin. That means foods that are natural. Not GMO, or foods that are sprayed with chemicals. I'm talking organic folks. The way you spend your dollars can either support the industry that is thriving on your ill health, or deprive it and put them out of business. Spend those dollars wisely.

Is It Just Me Or Is Anyone Else Noticing This About Moisturizing?

Is it just me, or is anyone else noticing how people who have stopped moisturizing are dong very little complaining about their symptoms, while people who continue to moisturize are still crying like babies and suffering immensely? It seems to me that 9 out of every 10 people who have stopped moisturizing during topical steroid withdrawal are doing much better and are stating such. They say they are much more comfortable and their skin is strengthening. They have found the way and will never go back to moisturizing during tsw. Why will they never go back? Because moisturizing during tsw makes life a living hell. When will ITSAN wake up to this fact? They obviously have the most influence over the majority of tsw sufferers, yet they still continue to resist such overwhelming evidence. Why is this? What is it going to take to get those few people who run that site to accept the obvious?

Read the various blogs and see for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Many people are finally crawling out of the hell hole they were in when they were moisturizing. It's undeniable now :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is ITSAN Using Fear And Scare Tactics To Solicit Donations?

Apparently, a new mass email mailing was sent out today to members of ITSAN, and who knows who else this organization may have on their mailing list. I received one even though I remain banned from the site. I found it rather insulting. The subject line of the email reads "Where would you be without ITSAN"? You have got to be kidding right? At first I thought it was a sick joke. But apparently it's not a joke. I feel ITSAN is using both fear and scare tactics along with pictures of suffering children to get people to donate money to them, rather than depending on their own mission statement of spreading the word about tsa/tsw. And, I feel this tactic is highly disgusting to say the least. I also feel it smacks of preying on the fears of people who are already suffering. And, I feel ITSAN is holding itself out like they are the only source of information, when in truth, they have been giving very poor advice to suffering people doing tsw ever since their inception. And, they have repeatedly ignored valuable information contributed by others. They even have gone out of their way to discredit valuable information people have contributed, and hidden the information from the public and members of their own organization. So, not only are they NOT the only source of information, they are a source of poor information to boot. In light of the actual facts, I feel ITSAN is seriously crossing the line here in the way they ask for donations for their private organization.

Below is a copy of the text of the email. I'll let my readers decide for themselves. To me, the wording of this email and use of children's pictures is sickening. I'm sure many of you have the email so you can see the pictures yourself in there and make your own conclusions. Here is a copy of the text:

"Dear Friend,

Without the International Topical Steroid Awareness Network (ITSAN) you or a loved one might still be lost in the frustrating search for a cure for "uncontrollable eczema". There would be no shoulder to lean on during the painful process of Topical Steroid Withdrawal. There would be no one asking the medical community to recognize Steroid Induced Eczema and Red Skin Syndrome. ITSAN is the only organization of our kind.

There would be no trustworthy organization to go to for resources, no inspirational stories of healing and experiences of those that have conquered Topical Steroid Addiction. No information-packed ITSAN Newsletter.

There would be no global network of support communities. No one to provide you with accurate, reliable literature and videos for you to understand this condition and that help educate you and others.

And there would be no strong unified voice to speak to the media and lawmakers and get the message out about the dangers of topical steroids.

Like most of us you may have spent thousands of dollars searching for the answers to your skin's problem. If your skin is addicted to Topical Steroids, then ITSAN has given you a valuable solution. What is that worth to your peace of mind to find out the very medications prescribed to help, were/are causing this worsening condition?

Only your contributions keep us going. click Please make a tax deductible donation today. You may also give monthly recurring donations.

We're counting on you... just like you're counting on us. CLICK HERE NOW TO GIVE.

With much appreciation,

ITSAN, Volunteer Board of Directors
ITSAN is a 501 c 3 non-profit charity"

Without ITSAN we might be lost in our search for a cure? Really? Did I read that correctly? I knew I had to stop using topical steroids before stumbling across ITSAN's website, as I'm sure most people do. I knew instinctively I had to stop using steroids and did so before even searching for info on the web about the subject. After stopping ts use, I confirmed I was on the right track when I came across an article by Dr. Rapaport. Then a blog by someone going through tsw. So, ITSAN acting as though people can't find the "cure" without them is pure hogwash.

"There would be no one asking the medical community to recognize Steroid Induced Eczema and Red Skin Syndrome".

ITSAN may be the only "organization" out there spreading the word, but it's individuals who are actually having a much larger impact in spreading the word on tsa/tsw. The above statement made by ITSAN is false and misleading. Many individuals including myself have and continue to ask the medical community to recognize Steroid Induced Eczema and Red Skin Syndrome.

As for resources, finding ITSAN when I did only caused me more harm than good. I wasn't interested in a shoulder to lean on! I was looking for information, as I'm sure the majority of people who stumble upon ITSAN are. If I had not relied on ITSAN for my information in my first several weeks of my own tsw, I could potentially have saved myself two months of unnecessary extra suffering. I find no value in that kind of resource. When I tried multiple times to educate ITSAN on better information to help reduce the suffering of other people going through tsw, I was ridiculed, insulted, marginalized, and basically treated like a child who didn't know anything because I hadn't gone through years of tsw myself. And then eventually banned off the site. And yet they continue to hold themselves out as a "trustworthy organization to go to for resources, inspirational stories of healing and experiences of those that have conquered Topical Steroid Addiction"? It really bothers me to see this type of misleading language in an email soliciting donations. And to know others fall victim to the same thing I did.

"Where would you be if there was no ITSAN?" I can not even believe my eyes when reading that one. In my opinion you would be better off! I could care less if ITSAN asks the medical community to recognize SIE/RSS, and I thank God ITSAN is the only organization of it's kind. I also feel it will be a cold day in hell before the medical community will ever recognize tsa/rss, or anything else related to tsa/tsw, so I see those efforts by this organization as a total waste of resources for now. That is just my opinion of course. I feel there is far too much money involved for the medical community to give anything other than lip service to this subject for many years to come. The best resources available for this type of effort is us individual tsw's. We can blog. We can tell our doctors, friends, and relatives. That is what we've been doing and will continue to do. That is how the medical community will eventually recognize tsa/tsw for what it is and eventually change. It will take a long time due to the huge amount of $ involved in the industry. Not to mention tryng to convice the same people about the damaging effects of moisturizing. That should be quite the chore as well.

Folks, the steroid and moisturizer business is big business and isn't going to change in my lifetime, and probably not in yours.

And again, a "trustworthy organization to go to for resources". Really? Who can trust an organization that tells suffering people that nothing can heal them other than the passage of time, and to moisturize your skin if it makes you comfortable, when we know this is wrong? An organization that claims they know of no one who has healed by not moisturizing when we know there are people who have?   

"No one to provide you with accurate, reliable literature and videos for you to understand this condition and that help educate you and others". Uh huh. Right. Well ITSAN, you aren't the only source for information. I suggest you get that through your thick skulls.  

"Where would you be without ITSAN"? Well, ever since I figured out what I was learning at ITSAN was wrong (my first month there), and figured out how to treat myself on my own, I have been doing very well thank you :)

My purpose here isn't to bash ITSAN. It can be a very valuable organization if it were to choose to do so. But so far, I feel the organization has proven to do more harm than good for people suffering through tsw, and only breeds an atmosphere of despair, hopelessness, and negativity the way it is run. The way this email is written is just more evidence of just how out of touch this organization truly is. And, relying on fear/scare tactics and misleading statements in an attempt to get donations out of people just isn't right.

ITSAN, you are just one small organization and if it weren't for people such as myself you wouldn't even exist. So, get your facts straight and stop acting like you are "the" authority on the subject of tsa/tsw when you clearly are not. And please find a way to ask for donations that doesn't include using pictures of suffering children and doesn't come off sounding like you are so desperately needed when you are clearly more of a liability than you are an asset to the tsw community.

To you devoted ITSAN members: I'm sorry but the subject line of this email that ITSAN sent out just makes me ill. You can clearly see where I've been without ITSAN. And look at where JSAN ended up without ITSAN after being sidetracked like I was temporarily. ITSAN may be a great site for people to gather in one place, but it probably should be just for that purpose and for information sharing. You are doing the real effective work and ITSAN should rely on you, not your money.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Is Moisturizing The Skin The Aceppted Thing To Do?

Here is an interesting article called The Real Cause Of Cancer And The Solution written by Dr Vernon Coleman. How is this related to topical steroid addiction and withdrawal? The article is about cancer but there are layers upon layers of similarities between the information he presents and the practice of prescribing topical steroids and the decades long propaganda of the benefits of moisturizing one's skin. It is a very interesting read for anyone going through tsw. I have known about much of this information for a very long time but many people simply are not aware of most of this. There is a short reference to Dr Stanislaw Burzynski. I had read quite about about him years ago about how he cured terminal patients that all doctors had given up on and were given prognosis's of only weeks to live, and how the FDA's lawyers have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to put Dr Burzynski in jail.

I have personally seen one of the top Derms on the west coast who is a professor and does studies for pharmaceutical companies, always looking for new drugs to market for treating the symptoms rather than than cause. Seems to me, in most cases the cause of tsa is the earlier drugs that these same pharmaceuticals companies had top doctors in their field do studies for and market to the public in the past. Here are a couple excerpts from this very informative article:

Politicians And The Media Are Controlled

"The medical and scientific establishments have (largely through the fact that they have sold out to the enormously wealthy and powerful international pharmaceutical industry) obtained more or less complete control over politicians and the media."

Self Healing Mechanisms Overlooked

"The other crucial fact that the cancer industry overlooks is that our bodies are remarkably capable of looking after themselves. Few people take advantage of these self-healing mechanisms and protective capabilities because we are all encouraged to put our health and our lives into the hands of the so called experts - practitioners who are often trained to look at our bodies, and the diseases which afflict them, with all the breadth of vision of a man looking through a microscope."

Conceit, Arrogance And Bigotry

"The great tragedy of orthodox medicine is that doctors have always been suspicious of anything new and often reluctant to listen to theories and ideas which contradict traditional attitudes.

From Paracelsus to Lind to Semmelweiss, medical history is littered with doctors who learned the hard way that the medical establishment does not take kindly to original ideas or to new concepts which threaten the status quo.

Medical students are taught that they should avoid asking uncomfortable questions and young doctors who wish to succeed know that they must remain unquestioningly faithful to the established truths.

Any physician who rocks the boat, makes waves or swims against the tide will soon find himself floundering in deep water - and struggling to survive! To be successful in our society a physician must respect the prejudices of his elders, adhere to the dogma of his teachers and shut his mind to theories which do not fit in with orthodox medical doctrines.

Modern medicine is, much like the black magic medicine of the middle ages, an unstructured, unscientific discipline in which uncertainty, confusion and ignorance are too often disguised with conceit, arrogance and bigotry.

At a time when the half-life of medical information is shrinking and the limits of traditional, interventionist medicine are daily becoming more and more apparent, this ostrich-type behaviour is difficult to understand and impossible to justify.

Unless doctors are prepared to consider the unexpected, the unlikely and even the apparently impossible, patients must regard rigidly orthodox interventionists with a certain amount of suspicion and cynicism."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Itching: More Than Skin Deep - New York Times Article

Here are interesting new findings showing that pain and itching don't use the same pathways, and itching is not all a histamine reaction, as previously thought.

"The experiment was not for the squirmish. Volunteers were made to itch like crazy on one arm, but not allowed to scratch. Then they were whisked into an M.R.I. scanner to see what parts of their brains lit up when they itched, when researchers scratched them and when they were finally allowed to scratch themselves."

The scientific question was this: Why does it feel so good to scratch an itch?

“It’s quite intriguing to see how many brain centers are activated,” said Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, chairman of dermatology at the Temple University School of Medicine and director of the Temple Center for Itch (he conducted the experiment while working at Wake Forest School of Medicine). “There is no one itch center. Everyone wants that target, but it doesn’t work in real life like that.”

"Instead, itching and scratching engage brain areas involved not only in sensation, but also in mental processes that help explain why we love to scratch: motivation and reward, pleasure, craving and even addiction. What an itch turns on, a scratch turns off — and scratching oneself does it better than being scratched by someone else. The study results were published in December in the journal PLOS One.

Itching was long overshadowed by pain in both research and treatment, and was even considered just a mild form of pain. But millions of people suffer from itching, and times have changed. Research has found nerves, molecules and cellular receptors that are specific for itching and set it apart from pain, and the medical profession has begun to take it seriously as a debilitating problem that deserves to be studied and treated.

Within the last decade, there has been a flurry of research into what causes itching and how to stop it. Along with brain imaging, studies have begun to look at gene activity and to map the signals that flow between cells in the skin, the immune system, the spinal cord and the brain.

The concern is not so much the fleeting nastiness of mosquito bites and poison ivy, but the unending misery caused by chronic itching — the kind that won’t go away, that torments people night and day and very often resists remedies like antihistamines and cortisone cream.

For the first time in the United States, itching research and treatment centers have opened: Temple’s in September, in Philadelphia, and Washington University’s Center for the Study of Itch, in 2011, in St. Louis."

For full article see Itching: More Than Skin-Deep.

Moisturizer Withdrawal Update - Girls, Girls, Girls!

Girls, girls, girls! Many of you are attempting to not moisturize by moisturizing. After being moisturizer free for several weeks, one girl I saw hit a stagnant period and apparently was unable to get her skin splits to fully heal over. So, she has done a 9 day experiment and discovered that one foot has improved faster using moisturizers on it, while the other foot remained the same with no moisturizing. Now, she has decided to do limited moisturizing on all of her worst areas. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Another is finding good relief combining a moisturizer with colloidal oats in dss baths. The jury is still out for me on this one but I am very concerned and I'll try to explain why. This is still moisturizing and although she is finding a lot of comfort in the short term, I am concerned about the long term. This seems to be a great short term method for bringing relief to people who have eczema or other rashes, but tsw symptoms are not the same, and they last for several months to years. So, this method can't possibly work unless done in a manner where the moisturizers are eliminated within a week or two of beginning this way. Not to be added back unless it's many weeks later and again only for a week or so. Very similar to how ts should be used if one were to use them.

My fear is once eliminating the moisturizer, people will then add it back as soon as they experience a little dry skin and discomfort. Which in effect will cause one to believe they need to continue using the moisturizer in the baths. Again, I can see these baths working in the short term just like putting Vaseline on the foot for the first girl has, but give it a few weeks and look out. The only true way to find the long term comfort you are seeking is to not moisturize at all and then learn how to manage the various symptoms that come with not moisturizing. These symptoms are very easily managed.

I commend all of you for trying to find comfort, but a word of extreme caution. One only needs to look at what happened to Dave awhile back to see what can happen when switching back & forth between moisturizing and not moisturizing. Just one thing to consider. But my main point is this: Moisturizing may help the skin in the short term, but in the long term it is damaging and only puts you back to going through tsw via moisturizing again. It will defeat the whole purpose of not moisturizing in the first place. The girl who found that her right foot improved over 9 days while moisturizing it, and the left foot that she hasn't been moisturizing didn't improve in the same time frame, has discovered that by moisturizing she is seeing improvement.

However, this is common to see in the short term with moisturizers. She will also discover in a month or so down the road that her feet will be the same or worse than they are now. Why? Because the skin barrier will weaken more in time from the moisturizing, as opposed to strengthening in time from remaining moisturizer free. This is the exact same illusion that ts have. The skin splits and cracks will likely constantly reopen and close again due to being kept moist. It's that simple. Don't overlook the entire reasoning behind not moisturizing in the first place. It's not only for comfort, but more importantly, it is to allow the skin to strengthen so that you may be more comfortable. The other girl who is doing the combo baths is finding a lot of comfort right off the bat, but will it be the same two months from now? Hard to believe it will if she continues using moisturizers for that long. Comfort and improvement at first, but give it a few weeks and the moisturizers will do their damage. Just like ts.

There are ways for the first girl I mentioned to heal those cracks in her feet while staying moisturizer free. I should know. I have been doing this for 7 months now. Since my initial MW, I've experienced everything I see people now talking about and more. My first couple of months were the most difficult in getting all skin splits closed and staying that way. Since then it's just been a matter of being mostly healed over, and then a mini flare or itchfest in my sleep opens up a spot or two, and within a couple days I get it closed again. Or, I would get a few open splits and a couple raw irritated areas, and get them healed again usually pretty quickly. It's been that way up until this last monster flare I just had. My last flare was nothing like all the previous mini flares and lasted 5 weeks. It caused the entire tops of my hands to become 100% covered in steroid induced eczema, and both my arms and legs that had been healed for months broke out very badly. All areas were oozing badly and were highly irritated and flaring badly for about 3 or 4 of those 5 weeks. I had to take a round of antibiotics in the first week it was so bad.

Still, if I had moisturized my worst areas during that flare I would be a world of hurt right now. Instead I have no open splits and am improving very very quickly. Both arms and legs are 90-95% healed. Tops of hands are back to where I was before the flare and look to be fully healed much sooner than I even thought a couple days ago. My palms remain healed even though I scratch them very hard in my sleep. The tsw monster is obviously still inside my body but it is losing the battle, and in the meantime while I wait for it to give up the ghost, I am very very comfortable and lead a normal life. I have been eating ice cream every single day for the last month! And, drinking coffee and eating pretty much whatever the hell I want. Just thought I would throw that out there because I'm not using any special diets or getting much exercise. Yet I am doing great and my case wasn't an easy one by any comparison.

Again, I am very comfortable now and have no problems other than that itch attack that comes about two hours after I fall asleep. My skin is so strong now, that no matter how hard I scratch it doesn't break open. This would NOT be the case if I had moisturized my worst areas over the past 5 weeks and I know this from my first two months when I saw great improvement with both Shea butter and a Calendula salve I used, only to watch my skin fall apart again after a few weeks. It stopped improving and fell apart because the moisturizers became ineffective after a few weeks and at that point they had become damaging to the skin barrier.

I also see others who have stopped moisturizing for a while now but still have a lot of itching, discomfort, and all kinds of problems. All of these problems have very easy fixes. Not moisturizing presents a whole different set of problems for the skin than does moisturizing, and there are easy fixes for all of these problems, whereas with moisturizing there isn't.

I implore all of you to be very careful in thinking you can moisturize and not moisturize at the same time. It's illogical. Again, look to people who have spent months not moisturizing to learn how to deal with the various problems that can come with it like the dry feeling skin, stagnant periods, splits & cracks that won't heal, excess itching, etc., etc. There are very simple ways to take care of all these things so your moisturizer free recovery is as successful as mine has been. I am especially skilled in how to manage severely damaged hands from a severely damaged skin barrier, as that is what happened to me. But I also had used ts on other areas of my body and have had to find ways to clear all areas including the head, face, eyelids, ears, arms, legs, genitals, feet, etc. Well, I think that pretty much covers everything. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

How To Best Manage Topical Steroid Induced Eczema On The Hands

The purpose of this post was to show the various ways I have learned to deal with my topical steroid induced eczema symptoms on my hands since doing moisturizer withdrawal approximately 7 months ago, into one place for easier understanding and referral. Trying to rewrite everything I have learned here will take up an enormous amount of my time. So, I decided instead to try and make this post a thread where all people who wish to learn about the best ways to manage tsw symptoms on the hands can post in this thread, and this thread can be a question and answer format similar to a forum. When you post here, try to include a link to pictures of your hands along with a little background on your condition. That isn't absolutely necessary, but if you can do this, it definitely helps. If no pics no worries, ask questions anyway.

I'm near the end of my recovery and will be going back to the life I had before tsw soon. Hopefully I'll be 100% recovered in another couple months at most. I'll leave this blog up for future reference but have other things in my life that I wish to attend to once my mission is complete. However, even after I leave the tsw scene, I will always try my best to answer any questions anyone might have.

What prompts me to write this post is there are many people with tsw symptoms on their hands and most do not know or understand how to deal with it very well and they continue to suffer needlessly. Same with most people with tsw on other areas of their bodies. Since my own hands were so bad from the start of my tsw, and quite possibly the worst condition I've ever seen out of anybody so far, I feel my experience can help most people. Seeing so many people with very minor symptoms compared to what I had to deal with continuously suffer so much makes me sad knowing how easy it really is to find relief and heal the hands to a point where the tsw symptoms are very manageable.

Unfortunately, most people do not deal with their tsw symptoms the way I have and try to find their own way. And they just continue to suffer not understanding why. They think they know why but most really don't as they fail to understand the logic of the various methods I use. This is what this thread is for. Ask questions if you want to understand and learn the logic and reasoning behind my methods. 

Looking back I can now see that the condition of my hands was far worse from the average person doing tsw from what I have seen in others over the past 8 months. As a matter of fact, I have yet to see anyone who has had it worse on the hands than I did. I have learned many things in those 7 months of dealing with tsw via no moisturizers and feel what I've learned should be of great value to those of you who have either began tsw without moisturizing, or those of you who have made the transition from moisturizing to not moisturizing, commonly referred to as "moisturizer withdrawal".

In my efforts to help people do MW over the last few months I have discovered that some have failed miserably in their attempts due to various reasons. Others have made it and are happy as clams. The ones who have failed miserably have been mostly people with more serious conditions and only failed at successfully doing MW because they didn't follow my methods, but instead thought they could do it in a different way. More power to you, but reinventing the wheel is probably not the best thing to do when in this situation as you probably now understand.

There is plenty of info on this throughout my blog, but much of it is me talking about things I did at those specific times. And some of the info may not be relevant now, or outdated. I have learned much from my experience on what works well, and what doesn't work so well, in dealing with the various tsw symptoms we experience while not moisturizing. These symptoms differ from the symptoms people experience while moisturizing. I see some people struggling with not moisturizing and there is no need for it to be such a struggle. There are ways to compliment not moisturizing to make yourself more comfortable and to find much more success in doing it that most people don't do.

Although I experienced topical steroid withdrawal symptoms on several areas of my body, the main area where I had the most severe symptoms was my hands. This is probably the most debilitating area to have topical steroid poisoning symptoms out of any other area of the body, and I wanted to make a thread just for hand care during tsw for people who DON'T moisturize. IF you moisturize, see my DIY Guide for Moisturizer Withdrawal During Topical Steroid Withdrawal to learn how to make the transition from moisturizing to not moisturizing. And don't be afraid or timid about asking me questions or clarification on anything I have written.

I would like to note here as well that I see many people who have successfully done MW but are still having issues with symptoms on their face. There is a very simple solution to your problem. Do Dead Sea salt baths as I have been suggesting for the last 7 months, and in the way that I suggest they should be done for tsw symptoms on the face and head, and you will see what I mean within just a couple weeks.

So, for those of you who want to know the various ways that I have learned in dealing with tsw on the hands, just comment here on this post and I will answer to the best of my ability. I hope to have this as an ongoing thread so others can learn from the questions and answers here. This will save me a lot of time and it will be much more helpful for others to see this information in a question and answer format, as opposed to me writing out a very long post on all the various problems that can arise and how I deal with each of those problems.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Moisturizer Withdrawal And Itsan's Private Forum

Many people are now discovering that not moisturizing is a much better way to get through topical steroid withdrawal as opposed to moisturizing. They are discovering that not moisturizing brings much more comfort, allows the skin barrier to recover at a much faster rate, allows the skin to strengthen faster, reduces itching, and in general allows one to lead a normal life while recovering from topical steroid poisoning or addiction. Moisturizing during tsw actually weakens the skin barrier, prolongs healing, intensifies itching, and makes for a very long and very uncomfortable recovery. There is no question about this, and as each day passes this truth is becoming more and more apparent to people everywhere, despite Itsan's long time unhealed moisturizing vets attempts at discrediting this very real fact.

To be fair, I believe Itsan has been instrumental in bringing thousands of people suffering tsw together in one place, which has been very beneficial in many ways. Itsan has also been instrumental in providing information to people so they understand what is going on with their skin. They definitely have done a lot for awareness of tsa/tsw and we all appreciate that. But when it comes to providing good resources and information on dealing with the long term recovery process, Itsan fails miserably. Over the last couple of years they have either intimidated people with valuable contributions that don't conform to their own beliefs into leaving the forum, marginalized people until they left out of disgust, or outright banned them. The latter being a rather cruel thing to do to people in the throes of tsw, effectively cutting them off from the rest of the group and access to others experiences.

All in the name of keeping a calm and caring atmosphere on the forum so suffering people don't get upset or stressed out from arguments or hot debates. Very noble but it definitely has been a wrong approach and not very conducive to information gathering and sharing, debate, and proactive work in finding more effective ways in healing from tsa. Itsan should have embraced these people and their ideas instead of driving them away. They should have realized a long time ago that their whole support forum approach was wrong. It's one thing for Itsan vets to push their views on things they have experienced. But it's a whole different ballgame when they push their views on things they haven't experienced. Like not moisturizing throughout tsw.

But, let's put things into context. Itsan's forum is a privately owned and operated forum run by just a few people. Due to Itsan's effectiveness in bringing many hundreds, if not thousands of people together into one location on a support forum site, these few people are in a very unique situation of having a huge influence over, and impact on these suffering people, and have a great responsibility to them. Newly suffering people to tsw are looking for information. So they rely on the forum and it's vets for the answers they are seeking in the belief that these people know what they are doing. After all, the website and forum have an appearance of people who genuinely care and understand what we are experiencing. Itsan is a non profit organization which holds itself out as an organization with a mission to help educate people about tsa/tsw and to support people recovering from tsa by providing the information and resources they need.

The vets experiences are invaluable to all new people to tsw who are trying to figure out what to do. But this should include all vets and not just "selected" or "chosen' vets whose beliefs fall in line with the owners of the forum. This is where Itsan fails it's responsibilities to the very people they are trying to help. Private forum or not, all opinions on how to best treat various symptoms of tsw should be heard and embraced, not marginalized or discredited. Debated and discussed.

It is extremely important to understand the implications of what a few people who sit on Itsan's board who make the decisions on what policies the organization carries out has. Their policies are based on the consensus of a very few people, and some of these policies cover what information they will and will not allow to be seen on their private site. This includes what the most effective and best methods are for recovering from tsw are. This kind of influence over so many people by so few people can be a very dangerous situation. Especially in a private forum setting that has garnered nearly all people suffering from tsw onto it's site. One only has to look at any similar "Groupthink" situations to understand this.

Itsan's board members has their own opinions and has every right to espouse those opinions. But the danger here is if a large number of people rely on the opinions of the consensus of just a few people in this kind of setting and that consensus turns out to be wrong, many people can be harmed. For example: For many years woman have been told they need a mammogram once a year. A new study, published in the British Medical Journal last week reports that “annual mammograms will not reduce the rate of breast cancer mortality.” The conclusion was based on research beginning in 1980 involving nearly 90,000 between the ages of 40 and 59 years old. The study's findings even show that yearly mammograms do more harm than good. This type of thing is all too common. It reminds me of how we were told for many years to replace butter with margarine for better health, only to learn many years later that consuming butter is healthier than margarine is. So goes ideas on the benefits of moisturizxng, whether it be during tsw or not.

But here is my biggest concern. Those examples are of consensus derived from very large numbers of people, doctors, scientists, universities, etc. If so many people could be so wrong for so long, just imagine the danger of a just a few people creating consensus on how to best mange tsw for the majority of people beginning tsw. To me it's mind boggling to know that a just a few people think they can decide what's best for everyone else on such a little known and understood subject. It is their moral and ethical obligation to take a neutral position and allow free flow of information, private site or not. To embrace all information and not be the ones who decide what's relevant and not relevant for people to see.

Its fine to express opinions as long as others can express their own opinions as well. But not allowing members to see others opinions that conflict with Itsan's own opinions is outright wrong, and potentially can harm many people. It is up to individuals to decide for themselves and they need all the information available to best do this. When you have a private forum that only allows the opinions of what the owners of that forum want expressed, then you have a bad situation for many reasons.

Yes, if we don't like it we can go somewhere else. And that is exactly what I would urge everyone to do if Itsan is unwilling to allow the free flow of information on their private site. It is a private forum and they can do whatever they want. But be aware that if you listen to their advice you are listening to outdated advice that has little value since much of it can not be debated on their forum, and most opposing opinions can not be expressed. Much has been learned since this tiny group of people have gone through their own tsw and people should be allowed to know what's been learned, and in a way that it is not discredited or marginalized by Itsan and their vets at the same time. But rather embraced and accepted as it should be. 

A little background on my experience with Itsan. I was a member of Itsan for a few months and managed to get myself banned from the site back in October of last year. Apparently, I had become a little too outspoken. I initially tried to convince Itsan to make subtle policy changes with very polite emails. There were a couple issues like Itsan staff and vets being able to say nothing can speed up tsw but others like myself could not say something can speed it up. I only asked that since there is no proof either way that Itsan change it's policy on the issue to saying something more positive like "to date we don't know if anything that can speed it up tsw or not". I don't think that was too much to ask. I am aware of the placbo effect as anyone who is runnig a support forum for sick and suffering people should also be fully aware of and I really felt that setting the belief in peoples minds that NOTHING could speed up tsw other than the passage of time was a true injustice inflicted on these people. I could see it in their blogs when they would parrot the same exact line. Their desperation in "knowing" nothing can help them and they have to wait for some undetermined amount of time to pass. It really made me sick.

However, my main bone of contention was what I had discovered about the effects of both moisturizing and not moisturizing has during tsw and the way my input on this subject was treated on the forum by forum staff and long time vets. And, the treatment continued for months after I was banned even off the site. The more people I was able to convince to try mw the more I saw Itsan vets post negative things about not moisturizing on their blogs. Everything from people trying it for one or two days and exclaiming how "it's not for everybody", to people trying it for a week and saying "it was too painful". None of those people asked me for help or advice and I feel many of them were out to discredit the idea of not moisturizing because they are so freaking brainwashed. Itsanity.

As time went on I finally grew so frustrated that I began to make demands that Itsan change. No more polite emails. Too many people were suffering needlessly and I knew it. I was quickly banned. I believe after banning me Itsan hand picked what threads and posts that I had done on their site they wanted their members to see, and kept those on the site, and deleted the threads and posts I made that they didn't want their members to see. A while back a friend of mine sent me screen shots of my "TSW On Hands" thread that I had started on Itsan back then  (I can't access the forum at all), and I was appalled at how in my absence how people were still asking me questions on the thread, but rather than Itsan telling people where I am, other members or staff would answer the questions in my place. Most of the answers people received were horribly wrong, incorrect, and counter productive. And most certainly NOT how I would answer.

I plan to do my next post on how to best deal with tsw symptoms on the hands for those of you who have it on their hands, but this post is meant to set the background and to help readers better understand why we are at the point where we are currently at now with the confusion that seems to permeate the community over the subjects of moisturizer withdrawal and not moisturizing.

I discovered early on that nearly everything Itsan believes and teaches about how to recover from topical steroid poisoning is not only flat out counter productive, but just the opposite of what people really need to believe and know. Although I supported this organization in the first two months of my tsw, both financially and by contributing by posting many times showing how to do moisturizer withdrawal at a time when practically noone had any information on it, or even was aware of the idea, I was called a "conspiracy theorist" for my views. I was insulted, discredited and marginalized to the point where most other members thought I was just some kook that didn't know what I was talking about. So, noone took me seriously at the time. Things have changed somewhat as the truth is very hard to suppress forever. However, Itsan hasn't changed in the way they operate, other than just very minor changes in an effort to try and retain some credibility, while they still continue to spread their misguided beliefs onto unsuspecting people who are suffering. This is simply unacceptable considering the circumstances.

Itsan claims they know of noone who has completed tsw via not moisturizing yet there is one person who has posted on my blog many times who competed her tsw in 9 months flat! Itsan is fully aware of this. This person was a member of Itsan but left the group out of disgust, for the same reasons many others have. She left on her own volition, whereas I left against my will. In the words of a former member I know, and I quote, "Itsan is dysfunctional at best". I can understand that statement as the organization holds itself out as a non profit support group for people going through tsw, who's interest or mission is to help people get through tsw in the most comfortable way possible. From Itsan's website: "ITSAN is devoted to providing resources to help eczema patients withdraw from their topical steroid medication to cure their addiction. Each passing day the organization works to fulfill the hope, of having a healthy and itch-free life, for thousands of eczema sufferers worldwide." Many people feel they do the opposite.

After banning me I was left to my own blog and the web to reach out to others on their blogs as my only resources to continue to get my message out. Luckily, Itsan has no ability to delete what information is posted on the web or on my blog. Itsan and their most loyal long time unhealed vets continued to do what they could to continue their attempt in discrediting what I had to say, even though I was and remain no longer a member. This has cased tremendous confusion amongst most people new to tsw, and it also has created a lot of problems in my effort to help people. Many Itsan members still view me as overly opinionated, egotistical, pushy, etc. The smarter ones see through this but the majority of people don't know any better and fall victim to this campaign of discrediting my experience and knowledge gained from it. This is very unfortunate for all involved and has led to things being said that probably should not have been said by myself. I just want my readers to understand that these problems have only came about because of Itsan's efforts to continuously discredit myself and my message. If I wasn't up against such heavy resistance in the last 7 months things would have gone down much much differently than they have.

Despite Itsan and it's still unhealed vets efforts to discredit MW, myself, and others who promote not moisturizing and supportive diets, MW has finally caught on because the truth eventually reveals itself. As has the idea of supporting the body's natural ability to heal through good diet, exercise, supplements, etc  

So, who is Itsan? According to their own website,  "ITSAN was officially co-founded by dermatologist Dr. Marvin Rapaport (UCLA Medical Center professor; leading expert on Red Skin Syndrome) and Kelly Palace, one of thousands of patients treated and cured by Dr. Rapaport." Kelly was a patient of Dr. Rap's and already had a website started around 2009 informing people about tsa/tsw. Apparently they got together and formed Itsan. Dr. Rap believes that it best to moisturize during tsw for comfort and his belief is based on the idea that people will recover eventually no matter what as long as they stay off the steroids. He is correct about that. Where he is incorrect though, in my opinion, is in his assumption that moisturizing is a good way to bring comfort during tsw while waiting for the body to readjust and completely heal. Which can take many years if one moisturizes throughout the recovery. In truth, moisturizing during tsw is the worst possible thing one can do and only brings much discomfort, prolongs the skin's ability to heal, and makes recovery a living hell. If you don't believe me just read people's blogs who moisturize, and then read people's blogs who do not moisture and see for yourself. Last year you wouldn't have been able to do this since nearly 100% of all people doing tsw were moisturizing thanks to Itsan carrying on what they learned from Dr. Rap and from the entire medical community. And thanks to their stubbornness on what people like myself were telling and showing them.

I believe Dr. Rap believes in moisturizing only because he is an accredited doctor, and this is what doctors are trained to do. He was able to break free of conventional wisdom on the use of ts, but apparently he hasn't put a lot of his focus on finding better methods of getting through tsw. To my knowledge, he hasn't been through tsw himself, or has he experimented with patients via not moisturizing. He has a very large selection of moisturizers that he sells on his website. I don't believe he is purposely making money off moisturizer sales knowing that moisturizing during tsw is the wrong thing to do. I believe his heart is good and he just isn't aware yet that doing tsw via no moisturizers is a much better way. Most wouldn't know this unless they have experienced it themselves. I may try and contact him in an effort to educate him on this fact, but fear I will encounter the same resistance I encountered with Itsan. It's been my experience that most doctors have a superiority complex and don't respect their patients, or listen to what they have to say. Naturally that's a generalization. I really don't know if it would be a wasted effort or not. Maybe someone else can do it eh?

Dr Rap also espouses the idea that people should avoid all sun exposure in the first several months of tsw. Wrong again imho. I exposed my raw hamburger hands to the intense summer sun several times per day from day one of my tsw every single day for the entire summer and fall and it only helped me heal. So, I'm not sure why he believes what he believes but I do know that the same belief has been carried on and exists throughout the tsw community and I believe the idea originated with him, transferred to Kelly, and then onto the forum. This is just Itsan advancing the same old ideas learned very early on. To this day I haven't read or heard anything as to why they believe this. What is the reasoning behind it? Is it logical? Doe it make sense? Even one of my Derms said it would be beneficial for me to get sun exposure on my hands in the first week of my tsw when he could clearly see they were raw meat. I would think one of the top Derms on the west coast would not tell me it's ok if it wasn't. Either way, I found out on my own that it was indeed ok. And quite beneficial I might add.

Apparently, Kelly taught Joey and others what she learned from Dr. Rap, and these people in turn taught many others what they learned and so on. So, you can see why Itsan and their vets believe what they believe. The main problem here is new information has come out since those early years and these vets don't seem to understand that what they thought was the best ways to recover from tsw is actually not the best ways. They actually learned the worst ways and they obviously don't have the capacity to understand this fact as has been shown by their repeated efforts to discredit anyone who advocates more effective ways, including the very Japanese doctors they claim they respect and support.

Oftentimes I hear the mantra "we are all different so we must find what works best for each of us". I find this concept far fetched and unbelievable. Yes, we all have subtle differences. But overall, all people are basically the same physiologically. We have different genetic tendencies and what not. Different states of health. All kinds of differences. But, again, these are subtle differences. Yes, some of us can react differently to different things. But when it comes to things that aren't so subtle, we all basically react the same ways. If we all sit in a tub of water 24 hours a day for 2 years I'm pretty sure we will all have the same outcome. I really don't know if that was a good analogy or not but I hope you get my point.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Month 8 Behind Me In Topical Steroid Withdrawal "Recovery"

I prefer to call TSW "topical steroid recovery", since it seems to be more of a recovery from poisoning than it is a true drug withdrawal. I guess it's all semantics and doesn't really matter as long as everyone knows what one is referring to.

Well, I hit month 8 a little over a week ago and couldn't be more disappointed in that I'm still dealing with this shit after this long. I spent 5 months of slow steady healing, after doing moisturizer withdrawal (ceasing the use of moisturizers other than bathing in water) only to see my body recover 95% and then revert back to almost where I initially began. My 7th month flare was unlike any of the minor mini flares I had experienced along the way and truly caught me off guard. After seeing and feeling the pain and intense itching, sleeplessness, and other symptoms gradually disappear over a period of 5 months, I was quite shocked that my 100% completely healed arms and legs could break out again in steroid induced eczema to the extent they did. And how the crap on the tops of my hands spread to cover the entire surface and slowly creep up my wrists and arms. The only saving grace is I didn't get that intense pain and fire sensations, or the 24/7 intense itching that comes in the first couple of months of TSW. Did get some of the old "zingers" back off & on though. No pics this time. Hands look the same, maybe a little better. Arms and legs 80% better.

I have never once used topical steroids on the tops of my hands (other than my fingers), or on my arms or behind my knees. Nearly all the areas I used TS remained clear throughout this huge flare. How freaking weird is that? It did try it's damnest to break out in my right palm, the place I first used TS on either hand, and the area that received the most TS. This was my worst area and was the most damaged. I should say completely obliterated. But, I was able to keep it at bay by using a combination of dss baths, and Tea Tree oil applications on spots that started to break open. I was getting very concerned my body was going to continue to flare until my palms were also a mess. But, luckily the flare has eased up and I'm back on the mend. My arms and legs are greatly improved and the tops of my hands are improved too, just not as much as the arms and legs yet. This flare lasted about one full month.

So, what happened? What caused this flare? Was it atopic dermatitis? Was it my original eczema coming back? Or, the actual continuation of recovering from using topical steroids? I've asked myself these questions a thousand times. I initially thought it was a change in my laundry detergent. Then I thought it was stress. Then I thought it was going back to smoking and eating a crappy diet after successfully quitting. The answer is going back to smoking and a crappy diet, getting stressed out, and changing my laundry detergent all contributed in setting off this flare. Obviously I wasn't fully "recovered" and I aggravated what was left by taking away the support I had given my body. The body had lost it's edge I had given it and succumbed. It was like the TSW monster was hiding in it's cave just waiting for the right opportunity to strike. And strike it did!

If I only had the sun again. Oh Mr. Sun won't you come back and heal my skin for me so I can eat what the hell I want to eat and not suffer the consequences so badly. I'm sick and tired of this shit! It's been over EIGHT freaking months! What other diseases take this long to recover from? I really don't see how anyone could endure this for years. My hat off to you folks.

I say it's been 8 months but I was having a hell of a time with my hands for a good year prior to stopping topical steroids. I would typically have between 10 and 15 band aids on my fingers covering large skin splits. As fast each one healed another would take it's place. By the time I stopped using TS my hands were so destroyed, not only from the long term use of the TS, but also from occlusive use of TS, that it's hard to imagine how I ever got my hands to heal. And the palms have the thickest skin of the entire body. They ended up in such bad condition by the time I stopped it makes me shudder to think about even now. But, I also can't believe how strong my palms are now too. I can scratch them quite hard and they hold up to it. I have to credit stopping the use of moisturizers for this. And the fact that I went through month 4-7 in total comfort compared to the months before I stopped moisturiuzing.

You didn't really think I wasn't going to mention moisturizing did you? Lol. No way Jose! Even though I have been still suffering in one way or another in the last several months, I have been so much more comfortable than I was when I was moisturizing. There is zero doubt in my mind that moisturizing during TSW makes one extremely uncomfortable, and prolongs the skin's ability to recover. I know, I sound like a broken record. I keep saying it only because it has remained a constant. I haven't moisturized to bring comfort to my often super dry feeling, sore and itchy skin during this flare for a reason. I know full well what would happen if I did. Before stopping the moisturizers I couldn't function for 3 months. Totally couch bound. I could barely do what I had to do to stay alive. I had lost nearly all ability to work, or do anything else that involved the use of my hands. Like making something to eat. Or even going to a store. After stopping moisturizing I was able to function again like normal. My severe condition changed so dramatically in such a short period of time that I was truly amazed at how my hands were in better condition than they were in many months prior to even beginning my TSW.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back I can see things so much clearer than while in the midst of the constant pain and the insane itching. Damn you people for making these poisonous drugs and pushing them onto unsuspecting people. And it's not just a few people but millions of people. Even babies right after they're born. You assholes! I hate you fuckers even more now than I did 8 months ago. And I don't hate. What a paradox! I need to remember that. Well, hate or not, damn you idiots anyway. I sincerely hope every single one of you get what you deserve and I know you will. That is how life works. Karma. I only have to ask myself what I did to deserve this misery myself. It certainly makes me look inward and examine my whole life.

How ironic. I'm sitting here eating a dark chocolate covered ice cream bar and typing with one hand. Talk about stubbornness. There is a direct correlation between what I eat and how much I itch at night. I know it. Yet, I am willing to take the bad with the good just like people who moisturize are willing to do the same in the name of what makes them feel comfortable. I can accept that and want to apologize to all that I have been a little too harsh on and critical of. I shouldn't be so judgmental and I know it. But, it's important to accept that moisturizing is not any better for you than eating ice cream is for me. I only want the truth to be told and not fairy tales.

Many people have been through 8 months of TSW via moisturizing and have documented their experiences. Not nearly as many people have documented their experiences going through TSW via not moisturizing. I know my blog has a lot of value and I get a lot of views so I trudge on. Looking back I wish I had stopped moisturizing my skin sooner. Actually wish I hadn't of at all just to see what difference it would have made. So far, all who haven't moisturized or stopped moisturizing, seem to have had a much easier time of it and have also seemed to have been able to function much more normally throughout most of their TSW recovery. There is something to be learned from that.

Currently my skin feels dry only from excessive bathing, but it tends to get better each day as long as I refrain from scratching the dried scabbed over areas and have to take a Dead Sea salt bath and start all over again. I don't need to do dss baths daily or every other day since my condition isn't like it was when I first made the transition from very raw skin that was being constantly moisturized to very dry skin with no external moisturizer other than bath soaks. That was a completely different situation. Now, I just need to make it a week or longer without scratching my healing skin and I should be in much better shape. It is healing even with the damage I cause but much slower than I want.

For the last month, about every 3rd day after a bath I would scratch intensely, effectively tearing the old skin off causing bleeding and lots of oozing. It is like a small wound that is almost healed and then itches like crazy right before it does heal. Like a mosquito bite that scabs over and when it's close to healing it begins to itch a lot and you scratch it off prematurely and it bleeds a little. So, when I rip my skin up I take another dss bath to bring relief and begin the healing process again. This has been going on for about 5 weeks now. Not very painful or all that difficult to get through like the early days were. Just irritating as hell. Starting Friday I began taking atarax when I would awaken from the itch and that has bought me two days of mostly scratch free nights now. Tonight it will have to be something else because I can't stand the effects that atarax has on my body. And it's just not very effective when using it every day, at least for me.

The healing process seems very similar to people who moisturize. Two steps forward one step back. Actually, people who moisturize seem to be taking one step forward and one step back for the most part. Personally, moisturizing is something I fear as much as TS from my experience with it during my first two months of TSW. If people find it an easier method for them I have no problem with it myself. I hope that by not moisturizing I will be recovered in under a year. That goal post has been moved because at one time I was shooting for six months. In any case, my recovery hasn't been too bad since I stopped moisturizing at the end of month two.

Finally, Ive tried to reach out to several people over the months offering my help in attempting moisturizer withdrawal with very limited success. My main goal was to get enough people to try it and provide more evidence it's a viable option so the consensus of the "group" would change and the majority would then be able to benefit. I apologize to anyone I offended in this effort and only hope you will one day understand why I have done what I have done. There are many people doing MW now with success so hopefully the concept of not moisturizing as a credible method of going through TSW will be embraced by the entire TSW community soon.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

I thought this article fits rather well with my last post, I hope some will gain a better understanding of the psychology of "Groupthink" by reading this article someone sent to me titled What Is Cognitive Dissonance?. Here is the article.

What Is Cognitive Dissonance?

"People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.

Psychologist Leon Festinger proposed a theory of cognitive dissonance centered how people try to reach internal consistency. He suggested that people have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs and behaviors are consistent. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs leads to disharmony, which people strive to avoid.

In his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Festinger explained, "Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads toward activity oriented toward hunger reduction. It is a very different motivation from what psychologists are used to dealing with but, as we shall see, nonetheless powerful.

The amount of dissonance people experience can depend on a few different factors, including how highly we value a particular belief and degree to which our beliefs are inconsistent.

Cognitive dissonance can often have a powerful influence on our behaviors and actions. Let's start by looking at some examples of how this works."

Examples of Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance can occur in many areas of life, but it is particularly evident in situations where an individual's behavior conflicts with beliefs that are integral to his or her self-identity. For example, consider a situation in which a man who places a value on being environmentally responsible just purchased a new car that he later discovers does not get great gas mileage.

The conflict:

It is important for the man to take care of the environment.
He is driving a car that is not environmentally-friendly.

In order to reduce this dissonance between belief and behavior, he has a few difference choices. He can sell the car and purchase another one that gets better gas mileage or he can reduce his emphasis on environmental-responsibility. In the case of the second option, his dissonance could be further minimized by engaging in actions that reduce the impact of driving a gas-guzzling vehicle, such as utilizing public transportation more frequently or riding his bike to work on occasion.

A more common example of cognitive dissonance occurs in the purchasing decisions we make on a regular basis. Most people want to hold the belief that they make good choices. When a product or item we purchase turns out badly, it conflicts with our previously existing belief about our decision-making abilities.
More Examples

"The person who continues to smoke, knowing that it is bad for his health, may also feel (a) he enjoys smoking so much it is worth it; (b) the chances of his health suffering are not as serious as some would make out; (c) he can't always avoid every possible dangerous contingency and still live; and (d) perhaps even if he stopped smoking he would put on weight which is equally bad for his health. So, continuing to smoke is, after all, consistent with his ideas about smoking."
(Festinger, 1957)

"Imagine that you prepared at great length for a dinner party at your home. You constructed the guest list, sent out the invitations, and prepared the menu. Nothing was too much effort for your party: you went to the store, prepared the ingredients, and cooked for hours, all in anticipation of how pleasant the conversation and people would be. Except it wasn't. The guests arrived late, the conversations were forced, and the food was slightly overcooked by the time all of your guests arrived. The anticipation and excitement of the great time you were going to have are discordant with your observation of the evening. The pieces do not fit. You're upset, partly because the evening did not go well, but also because of the inconsistency between your expectation and your experience. You are suffering from the uncomfortable, unpleasant state of cognitive dissonance."
(Cooper, 2007)

How to Reduce Cognitive Dissonance

There are three key strategies to reduce or minimize cognitive dissonance:

1) Focus on more supportive beliefs that outweigh the dissonant belief or behavior
2) Reduce the importance of the conflicting belief
3) Change the conflicting belief so that it is consistent with other beliefs or behaviors

Why is Cognitive Dissonance Important?

Cognitive dissonance plays a role in many value judgments, decisions and evaluations. Becoming aware of how conflicting beliefs impact the decision-making process is a great way to improve your ability to make faster and more accurate choices.

"The basic hypothesis I wish to state are as follows: 1. The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance. 2. When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance."
(Festinger, 1957)

"Festinger's insistence that cognitive dissonance was like a drive that needed to be reduced implied that people were going to have to find some way of resolving their inconsistencies. People do not just prefer eating over starving; we are driven to eat. Similarly, people who are in the throes of inconsistency in their social life are driven to resolve that inconsistency. How we go about dealing with our inconsistency can be rather ingenious. But, in Festinger's view, there is little question that it will be done."
(Cooper, 2007)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Groupthink" And Topical Steroid Withdrawal - Moisturizer Withdrawal

I think it's WAY past time I point this out since "Groupthink" is apparently a very little understood phenomenon amongst the topical steroid withdrawal community. This especially pertains to the issue of whether to moisturize or not, and other important things that affect comfort and quality of life during recovery from topical steroid poisoning. Things like what to expect, and how to best deal with the various aspects of TSW, etc., etc. Hopefully this will enlighten at least a few people.

From Wikipedia

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the "ingroup" produces an "illusion of invulnerability" (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the "ingroup" significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of their opponents (the "outgroup").

Antecedent factors such as group cohesiveness, faulty group structure, and situational context (e.g., community panic) play into the likelihood of whether or not groupthink will impact the decision-making process.