This diary entry is merely a personal record of the author. The author is not medically trained to diagnose any condition nor provide any medical advice. Seek professional help if necessary. If you would like to know more, you can look up Topical Steroid Withdrawal.
It’s been three years since August 2014. “Phew” is an understatement; I’m glad to have made that first step to bin all that topical steroids three years ago. If only I had known what was going on at that point in time. It wasn’t until about six months into withdrawal that I found the answer to all the unbearable inflamed red skin. I found blogs, forums and even a private Facebook group which supported me through my never ending questions. It’s the people who are in it; they help to share the knowledge, spread the awareness and provided some many helpful tips and products. There is so much to learn through this journey and this quote – Health is Wealth – sums it all.
It is about time I write everything down to share and remind what I’ve used and done through this journey, hopefully it helps and inspires others. I am not claiming to be an expert, neither am I claiming to be healed at this 3rd year mark.
Skin Care tried
We’ve always stressed that the skin is our largest organ and anything that is applied onto the skin is absorbed straight into the blood stream. Many people recommended products with mineral oil and parabens, but I decided against those because they are synthetic and not natural. I figured that the use of steroids over the years have accumulated so much chemicals in the body that I didn’t want to burden it further. Switching to natural skincare products was top priority. I have used products like Aveeno, Physiogel, Cetaphil, QV, Lucas Paw Paw Ointment, Eucerin and more, so I do see a difference between these and the natural ones. It’s like eating junk food versus whole foods. I truly believe that natural products are easier for the skin to adapt and absorbed, even if there is still a chance of allergy.
Avocado Butter – I used this for a couple of months and have found them to have better results. These are rather difficult to find compared to Avocado Oil, but I find the butter more effective during colder months. Organic and unrefined is the best option.
Cocoa Butter – I have used Palmer’s products, especially the green tubes that contained Olive Oil. I went through many green tubes, but I just can’t use pure Cocoa Butter although there are people who found good results with it.
Coconut Oil – While others rave about coconut oil, I found that it didn’t do much for me except being really oily. We cook a lot with it though, but I can’t stand it has helped. However, if I have to choose between Coconut Oil and Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil is my preferred option. You can find products containing Coconut Oil here.
Jojoba Oil – My skin loves using this and it has helped healing as well. This oil has a tendency to sit on my skin as well so I would apply it while the skin is wet. I have tried various brands but the one I’m currently using is the best quality I’ve tried. You can find products containing Jojoba Oil here.
Lush Turkish Delight Shower Moisturizer – Although I don’t fancy Lush for its price and the strong, I thought Lush was all natural and would fit the bill. I walked into a store wanting to get their Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner a few years back but bought Turkish Delight instead because Ro’s had Parabens in it. I really liked the Turkish Delight, it left my skin feeling really soft and moisturised (that’s what it’s supposed to do!) but the price was too dear. The smell was also too strong as there were added Fragrance (chemicals) and I don’t know if it was cleaning well. Washing the shower moisturizer away is really a waste.
Macadamia Nut Oil – It is a lightweight nut oil that is absorbed quickly without feeling greasy. It is high in Oleic Acid (Omega 9) which is extremely moisturizing, Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) which helps to restore the skin’s barrier and retain moisture in the skin, and Palmitoleic Acid (Omega 7) which is rich in antioxidants. It also contains Phytosterols, which is a general term for sterols produced in plants and a subclass of steroids produced by the body. They help to reduce itchiness and inflammation, which aids skin recovery. You can find products containing Macadamia Oil here and my personal favourite is Organic Skin Rejuvenation Serum.
Natural Zinc, Rash or Diaper Cream – Many people would recommend Desitin and Sudocream, but they contain other synthetic ingredients which I do not favour. I use natural diaper cream and especially those with nourishing oils and bases. I have used one from Weleda but have since switched to this one and am currently using this. It has Calendula and Allantoin which helps with healing.
Necessity Fixaderm & Bettaderm – Fixaderm is my favourite oil blend and I have used almost 10 bottles before switching to Bettaderm. Fixaderm works best as a spot treatment and it worked so well that we decided to stock them on Wellness Within. Bettaderm has the exact same ingredients as Fixaderm except less concentrated so Bettaderm is best use as overall maintenance. We have a baby who uses Fixaderm to fix infected rash on his bum caused from diaper use and the rash subsided before the next diaper change, he used to use Desitin but that didn’t work at all despite smearing a good amount. We have a blog post about Fixaderm, you can read it here.
Paw Paw Ointment – We have all heard about the benefits of Paw Paw and how it’s great in skincare. I have used the red tube from Lucas and while they did work, the effects were temporary. I stopped using Lucas after finding out that it had less than 4% of Paw Paw and the remaining were all synthetic ingredients. The other Paw Paw Ointment that I have in my purse currently is this one from Suvana.
Physiogel – Doctors usually recommend these. I used these pre-TSW and have also used a couple of tubes of these in my second year of TSW. I was looking for something that is moisturising, but because of the mineral oil in it, these sits on the skin as well. I switched to these because they worked pre-TSW, but these are not my preferences. After using many tubes, I concluded these just don’t work for me.
Rosehip Oil – Rosehip Oil don’t agree with me. Whenever I use it, my skin tends to become drier. But Rosehip Oil has plenty of good stuff in them, essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, so it is known to be really good for the skin. I don’t use Rosehip Oil as is, but the products that I am using contains it. You can find products containing Rosehip Oil here.
Shea butter – These can be bought almost everywhere and I went through many tubs of it. I would prefer Avocado Butter but these were more accessible. While it’s oily and moistursing, Shea Butter often sits on the skin and my skin does not like anything that “covers” it hence products like mineral oil are not my thing. Organic, raw and unrefined is the best option. I realised a blend of ingredients agrees more with my skin, like a base of Shea Butter with Jojoba Oil and other helpful essential oils.
Squalene – I don’t use squalene anymore but I liked using it. I bought a couple of bottles from iHerb, but they no longer stock that particular brand. Squalene used to be derived from sharks but now it’s made from Olives. If sharks are a concern to you, remember to double check the source.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E was also beneficial, but not my go to. I was given a bottle from Derma E, while it isn’t my preferred version of Vitamin E I used it anyway. I don’t use it now because I find that Jojoba Oil works better.
Is that all?
The above is not an exhaustive list of products that I have tried over the years, some of the products from my current routine have not been included too. I will update this list as I try and test more products, but I am happy with my current routine.
Are you healed?
I wish I could say I am, but I am currently not neither am I 100% sure that the flares that I have been experiencing are from TSW and not eczema. That said, I truly believe that TSW effects are not eczema. I have a couple of spots that have been around for almost a year now, and they seem to be slowly fading away with change of skincare and supplements. My face was first hit with TSW effects – red, flaky and dry – but now it’s the best it has been. All other parts are okay except hands and feet, which are the worst spots for the past year, and elephant knees are slowly smoothing out. Elephant elbows and leathery lichenified skin were around before TSW, so I’m not too bothered because I believe they will slowly fade away. Being positive is tough, but it’s necessary to keep going. Press on, warriors.
Last updated 23 October 2017.