Red Skin Syndrome, also known as Topical Steroid Addiction and Withdrawal, is a debilitating condition that can arise from the use of topical steroid creams to treat a skin problem such as eczema. (credit: Itsan.org website)
This condition can affect people who use or overuse topical steroids for eczema, rashes, acne and skin treatments after cosmetic procedures. Topical steroids come in creams, ointments, lotions and gels. They can be purchased over the counter or in stronger formulations by prescription. Other names are cortisone, glucocoticosteriords, coticortisteroids.
Not everyone who uses these topical steroids will develop RSS and it is unknown why some people are affected and others are not. Often when prescribed for Atopic Dermatitis it works initially, but when the cream is stopped a rebound will occur, often with even worse symptoms or it can show up elsewhere on the body. Many mistake this for the original problem spreading when often times it is a result of the use of a topical steroid and the withdrawal symptoms.
I have suffered from RSS due to many years of having eczema (atopic dermatits). I have been told there is no cure for my eczema, only treatment. My father had it as well and it is often linked back genetically in families. There was a time in my life when my skin burned, itched, cracked and bled at every knuckle and bend on my palms. Every crease in my legs, between my toes, along my hairline, in my scalp, my ears and the cracks and folds around my nose and mouth. I spent many years covering my skin with over the counter, as well as prescribed creams and lotions. They would relieve it for a little bit then my skin would burn and itch tenfold. I soaked in oatmeal baths, tried coconut oils, shea butters, African Black soaps, apple cider vinegar, and more. I tried to cover the red and cracked areas on my face with makeup, only to have it look worse. The mirror became the enemy, so did my clothes.
My anatomy teacher and mentor in massage school would tell me at times I looked like I had pseudo-icthyosis. It was a play on words for a real condition called Icthyosis. This is also a genetic skin disorder that often appears as fish scales or thickened cracked and peeling skin on portions or all over the body, again, no cure only treatment.
I cannot begin to tell you how miserable it feels to be inside a body that constantly burns and itches, let alone to look in the mirror and see yourself looking like you just survived a fire or chemical spill. Clothes rub and itch, cold weather burns your skin, the sun helps but then there is the conundrum of sun exposure, SPF stings, bug spray burns, perfumes, scented soaps, laundry detergent, make up, the list goes on and that is only topical irritants. Then there are the foods that trigger it; gluten, dairy, sugar, preservatives, dyes, alcohol, spices, etc.
From my own personal experience I will tell you what has helped me over the years. The FIRST thing is stepping away from topical steroids, this took many months (about 20) of rebound and misery. The SECOND was trying to learn the triggers that set off the eczema to begin with. For me it was stress, certain foods, and household and personal care items. I began using only high quality organic skin care products and toiletries. Eliminating chemicals in my home, ie: cleaners, fragrances, pesticides, etc. I wear organic cotton clothes when I can or very soft fibers. I rip out the tags, or buy things without tags.
THIRD and probably most important: Education, it equaled freedom for me! I am not suggesting you go to the extremes I did, the reason I did was to help others as well as myself.
I learned about the gut and how it plays such a huge role in our health and mental health as well. I became certified in the digestive wellness arena; Colon Hydrotherapy, Loomis Digestive Enzyme Specialist and other digestive supplementation workshops. I learned about nutrition, absorption, assimilation, and elimination. What to eat, what not to eat, hydration and so on. This eventually became my career and it helped get my digestion in order, but the skin component was missing. I could not discuss this on a expert level with clients so I decided to go back to school to learn about the skin. I needed to add that missing part to the puzzle of helping myself as well as others.
Eczema reared it’s ugly head again while I was in Esthetics school. Many of my fellow students and now friends can attest to my struggle. They were concerned working on my face or body for fear of hurting me. Anyone who has ever gone to esthetics school can relate on how much stuff they did daily to each other in order to learn as well as “get our hours of hands on in” We were introduced to many professional products some even that had steroids in them for the purpose of reducing the effects of redness and itching after treatments. I drew the line at putting those on my body. There were a few running comments in class; “No Cindy, it is not organic” “Yes, everyone has to get as well as give all the treatments” and from my own mouth “shit that burns, hurts, itches, stings…all the way up to Hell No you’re not putting that on my skin today” I had so many chemicals, petro chemicals, preservatives and acids put on my skin, waxes, dye, make up, micro-derm crystals, desincrustation fluids, galvanic, etc. that you can imagine how bad it felt. It was all in the normal course of learning and I suffered most days with a smile plastered on my face, expletives screaming in my mind and many tears alone in my car as I drove home with my skin on fire. I went in everyday on time with perfect attendance, graduating with the highest GPA of my class, one goal in mind; get my diploma(s) so I could continue on to learn the holistic skin care world and open Aqua Serene Wellness Spa! I went on to become the only certified Dr. Hauschka Holistic Esthetician in Indiana and have not looked back. One of these days I will write a blog about my time in esthetics school, there was much frustration as well as a few comical moments and I made some life long friends along the way.
The tagline in my business name is “from the skin to within” for a reason. It has taken all these components to battle my daily life as a person with eczema and sensitive skin, let alone the journey of life functioning with part of my large intestine missing!
From what you put in your mouth, on your skin, breath into your lungs and what you eliminate is a key factor in our health and wellness.
I still suffer from bouts of eczema, stress is the one thing I still have to conquer. I am working on that and have implemented services here at the spa to help with relaxation. We offer Massage, Jin Shin Jyutsu® and Acupuncture. We have our Far Infrared SOQI bed and our CellumaPro LED Light panel.
We offer two different types of foot Detoxes as well as other energy modalities. I enjoy the times I get to sit in the cozy reception area and visit with clients and friends over herbal teas and laughter. Do not dscount those moments of joining together in conversation and giggles, those are the absolute best stress reducers, and money cannot buy that! I will continue my love of learning, I not only do it for myself but for my clients and family. We have some new things planned for Aqua Serene Wellness Spa in 2017 and as always we have a great team of businesses and practitioners we refer to in house as well as out.
We wish you a wonderful and health filled 2017!
We are Located at 301 E Carmel Dr Suite C-100 Carmel Indiana 317-564-0930
Disclaimer: This blog is for information only, it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition or disease. Please seek professional medical advice before stopping or starting any medication or treatment. These are just my own personal observations and experiences and not intended to treat or diagnose.