Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Topical Steroid Addiction and the Moisturizer Connection

Hello all! Its been nearly a year since I've made a post on my blog and I have finally gotten inspired to write one today. I am still in topical steroid withdrawal. and STILL not 100% healed. However, my symptoms are mild, and have been since my one year mark. Apparently, the skin barrier in my hands was so destroyed from overuse of topical steroids that it is still trying to fully heal from the damage after 3 years! Over the last three years I've seen many people heal completely, some within just 3-4 months, and have seen others still quite not there after 1-3 years of topical steroid withdrawal. The difference in healing rates is rather obvious to me. People who used topical and/or oral steroids intermittently, or for a short duration of time, seem to heal the quickest. Just the opposite for others who used ts heavily for prolonged periods of time.

What really inspired me to write today is a theory I have come up with. I have much attention in these last three years to people who are using topical steroids. Friends, acquaintances, the general public, and family. I always pick their brains on how long they have had skin issues, why they started using topical steroids, what potency, how long have they been using, how much, and how often. I see a common theme throughout all these people. It is this: a small rash pops up on the skin, they treat it with over the counter topical steroids until such time they no longer work and other patches of rash show up on the body, and out of frustration they go to a doctor for help. The doctor prescribes a more potent topical steroid than what one can buy over the counter and sends you home. It works like magic, just like the over the counter steroids used to do.

However, as time goes by, the rashes being treated begin to spread, again. Other rashes pop up on other places on the body (usually near the paces we used ts, but not always), again, where one never used steroids, or had any problems before. WTF! Well, most of us know what happens after that. It continues to worsen over time until we finally search the web and find out what is really happening.

Topical steroid addiction (TSA), or poisoning, whatever you want to call it. The cure? Most of us choose topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) and begin to address the actual cause of our original skin problem. We learn the topical steroids only treat the symptoms, but not the actual cause. And they eventually stop working for many of us.

We also learn that topical steroids are creating the rashes that we and our doctors were attributing to eczema or atopic dermatitis, etc. 

That last sentence is the most important to understand so I will repeat it. We also learn that topical steroids are creating the rashes that we and our doctors were attributing to eczema or atopic dermatitis, etc.


We know that not all people have serious problems using topical steroids, and yet some do. Here is where my theory comes in. It is actual two parts. I believe that people who DO have problems with using topical steroids are people who have certain genetic make-ups, making them far more susceptible to topical steroid addiction, and the associated problems that come from it. And also making them more susceptible to common skin irritants. It seems to be people like myself, who have family members that have had childhood eczema, psoriasis, or asthma.

The second part of my theory is why most people seek medical help for various skin eruptions, and what leads us to use topical steroids in the first place. To me, this is the most important part. It's a very simple theory. Not proven, but common sense and a little knowledge on how the skin functions, and one can easily understand.

At some point in life whether 2 months of age or 30 years of age, we get a small rash. The rash is commonly treated with topical steroids if it doesn't go away, right away. Or, treated with moisturizers, and then on to topical steroids. What exactly causes this first rash to appear? Well duh? It's the skin being irritated by something. Chemicals in a blanket, baby powder, harsh laundry detergents, soaps, shampoos, chemicals in foods, etc. Most make-up, lotions, most all moisturizers, etc., have ingredients that have known skin barrier damaging properties to them. Even the most natural things can cause skin eruptions if the skin is smothered with them for a prolonged period, in effect causing a situation where the skin is not able to function normally.

Again, it's a very simple theory that only requires a little common sense and logic to grasp. When people break out in a rash, it is almost always caused by contact with a skin irritant. But, they don't treat the cause. They treat the symptoms. Treating symptoms never addresses the cause, therefore, we rarely get the desired effect.

I have seen countless numbers of people in various stages of topical steroid use. I cringe every time I see and talk to them. Most people do not understand, as they are not taught this information, and are rarely told this by their doctors. Many are also erroneously (oftentimes negligently) told by their doctors to use topical steroids for far too long periods of time. Far more than what the pharmaceutical companies who make the drugs suggest to use (two weeks per year). Many doctors are ignorant of the side effects of many drugs they prescribe, and their proper use. Some are very aware, but don't care, as their only interest is making money. I'm not painting all doctors with one brush. There are good doctors out there. Problem is, it's like finding a good mechanic or any other profession. People are people. Some are honest, but many are not. Many (imo most) doctors are also unaware of the dangers of ts use. In the case of general practice doctors, they are far too busy to even research the topic when you present it to them. No fault of their own in many cases. It's just the way our medical profession is set up these days.

How many doctors address the actual cause of skin eruptions as opposed to just prescribing topical steroids and sending you on your way with improper instructions on how it should be used? I could make an educated guess with my own life experience and say maybe 5%?

CONCLUSION:
People who have skin issues are usually people who have genetic make-ups that make them far more susceptible to common skin irritants compared to others. At first sign of a rash, whether on your newborn baby, or on you, look at the potential causes of the rash and treat the problem from that perspective. Treating the symptoms incorrectly can obviously lead to extremely serious complications months and years later, as the thousands, if not millions of people doing topical steroid withdrawal can attest to. How to treat correctly? Look for the cause and remove it. If your genetic make-up makes you more susceptible to skin problems, learn what to avoid. Things like moisturizers, lotions, suntan lotions, I could go on and name thousands of products. It would be much easier to just say go all natural in your diet, laundry detergent, soaps, etc. Never put crap on your skin, period. No insect repellents, no suntan lotions, no moisturizers, etc. Worried about the sun? Wear a hat, or limit your exposure. Mosquitoes? Wear long sleeves and avoid areas with lots of mosquitoes. Dry skin? Drink more water and stop putting crap on your skin, which is very likely the reason you have dry skin now. Etc., etc., etc. Allow your skin to heal with only the aids of sunshine and air. And by avoiding the chemicals that caused the dryness in the first place. Don't buy into the modern snake oil salesmen of the day you see on your television set. They are out to make money off you and your lack of knowledge. Read up on how the skin functions and you will realize that putting anything on it other than water, air, and sunshine is very likely damaging to it, especially is applied for prolonged periods of time.

All comments and questions welcome.

28 comments:

  1. Excellent post Dan. Thanks for pointing this out to me earlier. I have also sent a link to a friend with similar problems with traditional dermatology. In fact, why we both apparently had something different in terms of diagnosis, we were both prescribed the same huge jar of a relatively strong topical steroid Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment 0.1%. Two different Dermatologists miles apart prescribing the same thing based on "spot sight findings" only. No skin scrapings, no tests. Just the usual "Try this." Actually the one round of Prednisone with tapering worked far better, and that was prescribed a general practitioner prior to referral to dermatology.

    What happened to running tests so to have assurances it's not bacteria, viral, or fungal related.

    I suppose I miss the years in Santa Cruz - Monterey, CA area where there were so many Holistic and Homeopathic practitioners. Am sure some of the traditional medical-pharma trained doctors see the alternatives as "out there," but I always felt that the natural folks made much more sense, and they also took the entire person's health into account.

    Will probably either drive over to the coast to have one of these non-pill pushers look at me if I can't find someone in Scottsdale area with a more analytical and healthy approach.

    In the meantime, now a couple of days into cessation of TS. Nothing is really different. Using an antihistamine to control the itching that arrives, and made up a bath of a combo of regular sea salts and epsom salts since the epsom salts have magnesium. This until my shipment of dead sea salt arrives.

    I've tried a variety of moisturizers with the usual names like Eucerin, Cetaphil, CareVe, Aveeno. I agree, they just inhibit the body. I did find that Aveeno Oatmeal bath packets offer some relief.

    Being an early bird in the process - will keep you posted. Can't wait to show my Dermatologist links to your info as well Dr Fukaya's and Dr. Marvin Rapaport. Will see how open she is to an alternative to writing a prescription for a different steroid.

    I want to add that I feel systemic steroids like Prednisone, administered properly and infrequently, is easier to control dosage than folks spreading on TS.

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    1. Thanks! There should be some holistic practitioners in your area. Those moisturizers you mentioned all have skin barrier damaging agents in them. If you looked up the inactive ingredients in the Aveeno Oatmeal bath packets you would be shocked to learn what they are and what effects they have on the skin. Here is the list:

      water, glycerin, distearyldimonimum chloride, panthenol, petrolatum, isopropyl palmitate, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, Avena Sativa (oat) kernel oil, steareth-20, Avena Sativa (oat) kernel extract, benzalkonium chloride, ceramide NP, sodium chloride

      Look up dimethicone using the word skin danger behind it. I can identify at least 5 ingredients in that list that are skin barrier damaging just from a glance. I encourage everyone to look up both active and inactive ingredients in all drugs. I remember reading from my past research on the web, polyethylene glycol is a petroleum waste by-product left over from oil refining. It's in many foods, make-up. you name it. The oil companies used to pay to have the stuff taken to the dump. But someone figured out a way to use it as a cheap filler in thousands and thousands of things we put on our skin, and in our bellies. Check it out on the web.

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  2. What have some of the people who have come to your site find works as a "non intrusive chemicals" sunscreen?

    Some of us have work that requires us to be in the sun or our hobbies and avocations. I officiate soccer and college women's fastpitch softball. I can cover most every part of body except for hands. Sometimes we can wear gloves, but not always, and hard to do when 100 + temperatures arrive.

    Is a small amount of bleach (bleach only) added to a bath good for a antisetic or anti-bacterial rinse, and if so, how much bleach in a tub? Bleach seems like a nsaty product to have on your skin but I could see a 1/4 cup or some amount on that order washing away bacteria.

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  3. If memory serves me right, I think it was something very common and totally natural like coconut oil. You can find out by searching Google using the right keywords. I would caution to not use anything while in tsw, and when you do use a natural sunscreen, soak in a bath for 20 minutes afterwards to get most of the residue off your skin.

    I and others I know have used bleach baths. Personally, I have kept them very limited and only did one when I felt I might be at risk of infection on my skin during my early worst days of tsw. I have done maybe 6 of them. I used 1/4 cup to a full bath and soaked for no more than 10 minutes followed by a good rinse in the shower.

    I also used Bragg's apple cider vinegar (acv) several times when I felt I needed to make sure the pH on my skin was balanced. I used 1 cup to a bath and did them the same way as the bleach baths. Dead Sea salt baths are by far the best thing for the skin that I know of other than the sun.

    If you are on day 2 of tsw. Keep me posted how it goes. Your first couple weeks will show how severe your recovery will be. Hopefully, it will be an easy one!

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  4. Where has the forums gone to? I've tried googling the name but don't get anything in return. Did it get shut down or something? I'm working at Walmart as a cashier and have been for not quite 3 months. I absolutely love it!!! I've been working overtime this week and haven't been very tired at all. I've also been adding coconut oil to my smoothies and it's made a world of difference for both I and my brother. Hope you're doing good.

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    1. Hi Geanna, I dropped out of the forums well over a year ago, and as of that time Andrea has been sole owner/admin of the site. I haven't heard from her and have no idea why the site is gone. I'm doing pretty good, hope you are as well too!

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  5. Hi Dan I don't know if you're still around I sure hope so anyway I've only used 1% hydrocortisone on and off on my inner thigh for a rash that just won't go away I go for a couple weeks without it using some kind of moisturizer or another until it clears up and then I have to use the steroid cream again you know how it goes... Well I stopped using it about 2 weeks ago and I'm flared pretty bad the rest of my body has a general dermatitis diagnosed anywhere from psoriasis to atopic dermatitis so when also even said I had mycosis fungoides which was taken away by UVB therapy the basically my chest stomach and back and shoulders are clear but my legs and arms are a mess I can't imagine not using moisturizer I'm 46 and I wonder if my oil supplies still good what about the elderly is there ever a time when was driver is good and if so when and what can I expect I can't find that on your site I'm not looking correctly I imagine about what I'm going to experience because right now if I don't do it in the morning I feel like my whole body is going to crack when I move around please help

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    1. Hi Audrey, our skin continues to produce oils until usually mid 60's. At that time a person might consider using a moisturizer like organic Shea butter during the days and washing it off at night. This is what I was told by Dr. Fukaya, and I can't see any reason why this wouldn't be the case for most people.

      It takes a little time for the skin to readjust to not being moisturized. The skin has become used to it, therefore doesn't feel a need to produce oil. When you stop moisturizing, the skin reacts for a couple weeks, and then calms down and begins to heal from the damage ts and/or moisturizers may have caused.

      I have found Dead Sea baths help in expediting the process but it can be brutal. But, I think it's brutal either way. Doing dss baths speeds up the scabbing process, while providing potential healing properties from the minerals in the dss.

      Be sure to read my blog more on the scabbing process and how long it takes for it to complete, etc. Also, links on right hand side of my blog are good info. Learn how the skin functions and you will know what to do. These are all just my opinions. I wish you the best in your journey!

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  7. The problem is, you can't just put nothing on the skin. I've done that for months and the skin remains very dry (winter is a nightmare), the skin starts to weep or sweat (not sure which) because the pores are blocked with dryness. I'm still not sure what the soloution is, other than not going in the shower that often. But even if you avoid the shower for a week, as soon as that water hits the face, it's going to dry the skin out.

    I have been using a tiny amount of Light Simple moisturiser for the last three days in the day and washing it off before bed. This is because the central heating / fire is playing havoc with my skin. As is the cold winter weather. The moisturiser still iritates my skin but then so does anything, Joba Oil, Shea Butter, anything! I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm two years into TSW. The skin on my body is fine with no moisturiser (its covered up), the skin on my face isn't. It's very dry and if left dry, will weep or sweat on a night. If mosturised, will itch and be irritated.

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    1. Hi Steven, I respectfully disagree the skin pores can be blocked by dryness. I also don't agree that water makes your skin drier, unless one exposes the damaged skin to water many times per day. Or, uses hot water. Hot water will strip the oils right out of the skin. Otherwise, it should be beneficial since it actually moisturizes the skin briefly. That's my understanding anyway.

      For all you people who fear low humidity....here is a study that shows low humidity actually causes the skin to produce more cortisol....

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24079737

      Here is a link to help better understand how the skin functions (just read first page to learn all you need to know about why the skin should not be covered, or put another way, why the skin pores should not be clogged with moisturizers)...

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

      Finally, a link to what Dr. Fukaya had to say on the subject...

      Also, this is an interesting read ....

      https://www.reddit.com/r/eczema/comments/2t417v/tsw_and_rss_opinions/#bottom-comments

      Be sure to read all comments by clicking on the "More Comments? link at bottom on that last link.

      Steven, after reading this info you will see that your face probably needs to sweat when it does. Reasons? temperature regulation for one. Excretion of waste products is another. Do you really want to keep your facial skin from being able to help the rest of your skin regulate your body temp, and inhibit it's ability to excrete waste? I don't think so. And bear in mind, we are talking about nearly the only part of the skin that is exposed to the air. Usually, the rest is covered by clothing. Think about it after reading all this info in the links above.

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    2. Oops, I forgot Dr. Fukaya's link to the info on moisturizing and it's effects on tsw. The comment section below the article is just as important to read as is his article.

      http://mototsugufukaya.blogspot.jp/2013/06/is-moisturizing-really-help-to-cure.html

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    3. Hello everyone this is Audrey. Dan has been helping me through TSW and moisturizer withdrawal. I live in Montana there is no other place dryer on Earth LOL. I agree with Steven in the fact that it is very difficult to go through moisturizer withdrawal that alone TSW in the winter. However, now that I've educated myself further on the effects of cortisol on the skin in dry weather I have changed my whole perspective of what my skin will eventually do with the help of the dryness not in spite of it. People who live in humid climates actually have a weakend Skin Barrier. Funny I seen this with my sister who lives in Florida her skin is really great when she's there but as soon as she comes to even in San Diego, which is not very very dry, her skin starts to dry out she however waits through it and then it evens out after a week. I did not use much topical steroids but I did use over the counter 1% on my inner thigh and neck. Oh my inner thigh I used it on and off for about four five months two days here then I would wait a week and then I would flare and use it again it never fully took away the redness on my inner thigh but it took away the burning that would happen after I stopped using it. Why I started using it in the first place was I had a small rash brought on by who-knows-what probably my moisturizer that I've been using for quite a while 8 years really every day twice a day is only so much your skin can take when it's smothered in that shit. Anyway I am talking through moisturizer withdrawal still because of the dryness here I'm not going to say it doesn't burn every now and again when my skin gets so very tight in certain areas but I do try to tough through it and I have not applied moisturizer since a month ago. This cabin that I had from head to toe really is now still sandpaper but much thinner and definitely going away albeit very slowly. I have places on my body that I have never used moisturizer my back my stomach my chest my shoulders they to this day have not been affected by anything dryness Etc that says a lot. Anyway Steve and I think that you need to read about cortisol and the skin Dan is correct in this and in many things. I'm not saying he's perfect but he knows a lot and I have learned from him. Read the studies he gets to you and look them up on your own being very careful to look at the source. If a study comes from a lab trying to sell a certain cream you can be sure it is not accurate. I do believe as we get older our sebum in our skin does start to decline a bit I see this in my mother who tried moisturizer withdrawal she has great skin didn't really have any issues but I was curious and used her as an experiment she 69. She now is using moisturizer and only shea butter after she showers in the morning and then rinse it off at night and she doing much much better even though she had nothing wrong to begin with. Her skin is responding even more than it ever did just by letting it recoup at night. So my advice to you and I know any at this point is helpful, stick with the moisturizer withdrawal get a humidifier if you need to but keep in mind after you read of the research on cortisol you will change your mind I hope and want your skin to dry out so I can start producing what it needs and start healing your TSW. Dryness is your friend and believe me it took a long time to get that through my head that dryness will eventually lead to my body taking care of me. I will reply again in the next month since I've only been to in all of this for one month as of today. Take care of yourself and let dan guide you. You've been in TSW for 2 years what do you have to lose? Pain is temporary take care

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  8. Thank you. I will have a look at these links when I have more time Dan. Some time this week. I have stopped using the moisturiser (after three days) as my skin became iritated to the point of redness and infection. I agree with you, that if the skin needs to sweat, let it. There's not much I can do about it anyway! However, sweating causes irritaion and itching. My doctor told me today that excessive sweating (on a night) could be anxiety, a thyroid problem, or just a sign of an overactive immune system. I have to disagree about water, it always dries my skin out, especially in winter. I have struggled for years because I can't use any moisturisers and without them, my skin is bone dry.

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  9. I read your links, very interesting, thanks. This information from Dr Fukaya seemed the most interesting to me.

    "Aside from oil production, many sufferers experience sweating too much or urticaria(hives) at the last stage of TSW. I think they are signs of skin recovery."

    So perhaps this is my answer. I'm still not sure what to do about the excessive dry sin. What would you do Dan? Shower or not shower? Luke warm or cold water? Do you yourself not use any moisturisers? As even Dr Fukaya says some people need them after TSW.

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    1. Hi Steven, I often wonder how professional swimmers stay in water half their lives without any apparent problems to their skin. Something I'd like to know more about. I also wonder if they moisturize constantly. Some of them, or all of them. I think most people may not have problems with moisturizing, and even ts use, because they don't have certain gene mutations that others have. I'm not sure. I don't know if anyone knows.

      It sounds to me like you have probably done more damage to the skin barrier on your face than anywhere else due to long term use of make-up, moisturizers, and then ts? You haven't really said what your full history is. My face is the oiliest part of my body. But, I haven't used soap on my face in two years. I just wash it with a washcloth rinsed in warm water about once a week. Nobody knows how oily it is but me. I used ts on multiple spots on my face and healed them all early on with dss baths. But, they healed quick compared to other areas, only because they were spots I used very tiny amounts, very infrequently. I would bet dollars to donuts if I had used make-up, lotions, moisturizers etc on my face for years, I would not have a symptom free and oily skin face right now.

      I don't use moisturizers, although did use organic Shea butter twice just recently. First time in 3 years. My hands are super dry. They are where I used the most ts and did the most damage. I am still having problems with the skin breaking open on my hands. They heal for a day or two, and then regress for weeks at a time. This has been going on for the past year. So, I tried moisturizing for a couple of days and it didn't bother me like it did early on. But, I know better than to keep clogging my skin pores and the ramifications of doing that so decided to stay dry. If I worked on my diet I'm confident my hands will finally clear completely at this point. I feel you on the dryness thing but try not to let it get to you. If you read on how the skin functions then you know what to do.

      I still only bathe, and usually with dss in tepid water. About once every 3 weeks. I take a quick shower (warm water) maybe twice a month. I use a washcloth daily on certain areas in between the infrequent baths and showers. I try to keep my hands out of water at all times. They just aren't ready yet. I do quickly rinse them in cold water once in awhile if I get something on them. Lately I've been avoiding that happening by wearing gloves, but I went months not wearing them and using my hands a lot. I've spilled gasoline on them, heating oil, got lots of caulking on them one day, etc. I haven't been too kind to them and I've had to pay the price. I even had to use soap a couple of times this year which to me is a definite no-no.

      I have a funny feeling a diet free of sugar and dairy would get me over the hump, but I love my sweets :)

      Dr. Fukaya only recommends moisturizing once one is elderly, like mid 60's and older. That's because the body slows down the oil production at that age in life. I hope this info helps shed some light.

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  10. Thanks for replying so quickly. My history is making the mistake of using strong steroid creams on my face when I was younger. I just wanted clear skin to be like all the other teenagers. As I got older I used lighter steroids on my face (my specialist told me they're fine, they don't thin the skin! Ha.) Anyway, about ten years ago I was in and out of hospital with red, weepy, yellow infected skin. I was given antibiotics and steroids, I was given every moisturiser under the sun, and I was reacting to them all! Within an hour of applying them, my skin was wet through, a weepy, red mess. Eventually my specialist gave me Cyclosporin, which messed with my white blood cells and raised my blood pressure. I also had Azathioprine. The side effects of these drugs are scary! Eventually I made the decision to stop them myself. Not once did any one tell me that maybe steroid cream and moisturisers were to blame.

    Two years ago, I decided enough was enough. I was crying on my birthday with inflamed, red itchy skin, as usual. That's when I found out about TSW and I quit the steroid creams instantly that day. At first my skin got worse, it was cut for weeks and still oozing fluid. Then the skin around my mouth started to heal, and then my forehead. Until months later my skin was almost healed but very dry. My doctor was amazed! He said, "well you haven't come to see my about your eczema!"

    Last winter (a year on after beginning TSW) I started to get night sweats and this has continued this winter. The dryness on my face gives way to sweating and itching. I do question whether I had weeping at all or if it was always sweating, due to the moisturiers clogging the pores. My skin has been 90% better during summer, since I went through TSW. It is still dry but nowhere near as bad, as in winter.

    I shower every day. The skin on my body has gotten used to this over say four years, and is now like normal skin. Very little to zero dryness. I believe this is because it is covered up. The skin on my face is exposed to dust, pollen, central heating, the fire and the winter weather.

    I think what I need to do is take your advice and avoid hot showers / water on my face. Instead of washing my face daily, I'll try washing it once a week or less with colder water. Perhaps the water will then stop drying it out and my skin will (like yours) make new oil. As for the sweating, i'm not sure if this is a sign of recovery or not. Maybe the skin is trying to lubricate itself due to extreme dryness. Perhaps it is anxiety (cortisol in the body) or just the winter weather. Only time will tell.

    I hope in time your face and hands improve to the point of full recovery. I'm certain you have helped hundreds of people with your blog, and continue to do so. So thank you! It is appreciated Dan.

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    1. Maybe you should enlighten your doctor to the fact that eczema is a childhood disease. Gotta love the way they call ts induced rash "eczema" and "atopic dermatitis". They just don't get it.

      You sure have been through hell. I'm really sorry this has happened to you. I did have a period of a couple of months around my second year where I sweated a lot in my sleep. I thought it was weird, but knew about what Dr. Fukaya had said, so expected it was part of the process and I was near the end. It went away and was never too bothersome for me. No sweating like that since. Seems if your body is detoxing via sweating, it would be other areas and not only the face. I wouldn't think your facial skin is detoxing by sweating though. Doesn't make sense. I never sweated on my hands from tsw. Got me on that one! Could be anxiety I suppose. Or, so much ts use for such a long period of time could be the cause. Maybe it's just going to take another year or two for it to completely work out naturally. You haven't really given it a chance though (on & off moisturizing), so maybe a year of fresh air and sunshine will work it out. That's assuming you have been using moisturizers on it until very recently, which you said you have.

      Hot water strips oils out of the skin just like soap does.

      Your two main complaints are sweating and the skin irritation it causes. And, extreme dryness. I really think the extreme dryness will work itself out by going a long period of time without moisturizing. Avoiding water and what you have already figured out from what I do. As for the skin irritation from the sweat, all I can think of is to get up and rinse the face off with cold water and immediately pat dry. I have a similar problem and if I had your issue, I would deal with it the same way I have been dealing with mine for 3 years now. I use a prescription antihistamine called Hydroxyzine HCL 10mg tablets for keeping from scratching in my sleep. They are non-addictive, relatively safe from what I've read, and knock you out for the night, depending on how many mg you take. Problem with this drug is it is easy to build a tolerance to it quickly. Best used judicially. I used to try and just take it every 3 days to keep the tolerance level at a minimum. In the last couple of years, because it's been so long and my tolerance levels got so high, I take 60mg every night. It gives me control over the unconscious itching that is so common with tsw sufferers at night. Some nights I take less, depending on what phase my skin is in. If I'm at a stage where I have finished a mini flare and my skin is scabbed over and almost healed, I use more because that is the time the skin itches the most in mid and later stage tsw. I have just started to begin weaning myself down lately, and plan to get off it within a year. It's been a lifesaver for me. Anyway, I'm not a doctor or medical professional, and cannot give medical advice. I can only tell you what I do and express my opinions. I hope this helps. Keep us posted!

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  11. Thanks for your help Dan. I used to take Atarax but its full of e-numbers. Haven't used it for ages. To clarify: for most of the last two years I haven't used moisturiser. Only a few times, and last weekend. It is odd that you had the night sweating too. This is a link with many more people experiencing this. http://forum.itsan.org/index.php?topic=1129.0

    Anyway, thanks for being so generous with your time. I'll keep you posted.

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    1. What are e-numbers? The sweating sounds like a common thing. I had forgotten about it being so common of a symptom for some people. As they say on the board it will pass. Ok, now what in the heck are e-numbers?

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    2. E numbers are synthetic food substances. It might be Sunset Yellow or Brilliant Blue. They are bad for people suffering from eczema and asthma. Yet, they put them in anti-histamines. How dumb are the medical proffesion? They use them to create the colour of the tablet. Atarax has about ten e numbers in it.

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    3. Well,that sucks! And I thought I had checked this out long ago. I just looked up the inactive ingredients in atarax and they vary depending on what mg the tablets are, and what manufacturer makes them. Called my pharmacist and he said no yellow 6 in what I'm taking, but there are other inactive ingredients I do not want to be consuming (I had him name all of them). There is a choice and that is having a pharmacy make a compound of the drug without the BS added. I actually did this one time with a different drug due to similar reasons.

      I have learned to research inactive ingredients on all drugs I take. I never really gave the coloring agents much thought as I was focusing on avoiding polyethylene glycol, which they like to put in nearly everything.

      It is truly appalling the FDA has allowed so much of this crap in our foods, medicines, make-up, you name it.

      Fortunately, I have avoided most all toxic additives and ingredients in foods for the past 30+ years due to my strict adherence to organic foods, so maybe what little I get from my atarax use will be of little or no consequence for me. I think the body can detoxify most of this crap as long as it isn't overwhelmed with too much of it like the typical persons diet of non organic chemical laden foods. So, it does make me feel a little safer knowing I'm really not consuming too much of the bad stuff. My body should be able to handle it since it's such a small amount to deal with comparatively.

      Thanks for alerting me to the coloring agents of additives. I learned something new today. I hadn't really focused on the inactive ingredients as much in my meds, just mainly the ingredients in my foods. Duh! You would think I would know better!

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  12. No problem, at times it can be overwhelming with everything we need to remember! I'm from the UK and unfortunately we can't get the pharmacy to make a compound. The drug comes as is, which means I avoid anti-histamines.

    I'm always amazed by your sweets / candy in the US, in the UK unnatural colours are banned (in sweets.) It will say all natural colours, no perservatives on the packet. But in the US, sweets are loaded with the! Brilliant Blue etc... I'm amazed anyone gets better with eczema and asthma! Sadly the tablets are like that over here. Doctors really are clueless. I did contact the company behind Atarax once and asked them to remove the colourings. I'm not sure whether they listened but I doubt it! Take care.

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  13. Hi Dan. Thank you for your post, the info is very helpful and I want to share my family story here as a proof for your conclusion about treating skin diseases by the cause.

    My husband has psoriasis all over his body long time ago. I remembered that his pain was terrible that he couldn't even sleep. Luckily, we did use topical steroid but looked for traditional herbal medicine because we are Asian. After drinking a Vietnamese traditional herbal medicine for a month which was told to eliminate the poison/toxic out of the body, his psoriasis was completely gone and since then he never has it again.

    We moved to the US and both our kids were born here having eczema starting from 2 month old. The eczema started at the face and neck and then flared up all over the body when the kid was at 1 year old. It's so painful to see the kid dealing with the itch and they scratched a lot that making it worse.

    For both of my kids, I almost never used topical steroid because I know it just makes their skin worse. I asked the doctor in Vietnam who treated my husband's psoriasis if he has any traditional medicine for them but he said they are too small for drinking it. So the only solution is just trying to find and then eliminate all allergic food. We found out that wheat, dairy, egg, peanut, soy are the ones and eliminating all of them out of their diet really helps a lot. Now my first kid is 5 year old and his eczema is almost gone. My second one is now 3 month old and he now has rash on his face and neck. I breastfed him and since I stopped eating the above food his eczema is getting much better.

    However, I have been using the moisturizer/body lotion for both of the kids since they were born because their skin are too dry and flaky. Cetaphil is the one that my first kid has been using for 5 years and it seems to help him a lot. I still applied Cetaphil for both of them twice daily but after reading your post I'm thinking I should stop using it.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Very interesting. Cetaphil has well known skin barrier damaging ingredients., Be sure to look up the inactive ingredients as well as active ones.

      If I had to use moisturizers, I would choose either high quality unrefined organic Shea butter, or the organic Spectrum Palm oil shortening. The latter is easily found in most grocery stores in the cooking oil section. The former is found in better stores that tend to carry organic products. Both are just as good as each other as long as one does not have an allergy to Shea butter. I would only put it on in the daytime and wash in off by soaking in a tepid water bath for 20 minutes in the evening. That way, the skin has a chance to recover overnight from the day's pore clogging.

      Again, thank you for sharing. Your experience is very helpful.

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  14. Read your blog (including comments) from the beginning up to end of 2013. Starting to read 2014 but can't find the info on tea tree oil dilution and what witch hazel do you use. Is there a way of emailing you? One old post mentioned it's at the bottom of the privacy policy but I can't find it.

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    1. Hi, there is so much to read and lots of it can be somewhat redundant. I would continue on though as you will learn lots of valuable info from many people's experiences. When I wanted to use the tto diluted I would run clean water over the Q-tip for a few seconds and shake. I no longer dilute it that way. Now, I dip the Q-tip in the tto and let sit for an hour or so and then apply it full strength to any sore cuts, scratches, cracks, splits, etc. But, I'm also in a different stage of tsw (late), so think it best one experiments and finds what works best for them. I would caution not to overdo it, and do your own research on it so you have a good idea of any potential dangers that may exist. The only and best Witch Hazel I could find was called "The Homestead Company Witch Hazel Distillate, alcohol & fragrance free."

      Here is the title of it on Amazon...The Homestead Company - Witch Hazel Distillate Alcohol & Fragrance Free - 8 oz

      I still have a near empty bottle but haven't used it since my early days when I had a lot of oozing in various spots, mainly hands. I would drench them in the witch hazel, shake off, slightly pat dry, and put my gloves on and press the fabric against the skin so it stuck and dried out stuck to my broken skin. It helped me a great deal in interrupting the oozing process, and allowing the skin to dry and scab over. The only way to reach me privately is to post your email address like you're posting here, and I email you so you have mine. I never publish the post with your email on the blog. I'm the only one who sees it. Before anything is published on this blog I "moderate" it first. That way I can keep people from spamming my site with garbage.

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