In February 2012, I stumbled across the International Topical Steroid Addiction Network’s website and realized that the out-of-control “eczema” I had been dealing with for the past 3.5 years was actually caused by the drugs I was using to treat it.
I had a hard time convincing myself at first that everything I had been told by my team of university doctors (that my condition was genetic and therefore unpreventable, that I was allergic to nearly everything outside, that I had developed a severe sun allergy, that I now had a genetic dry skin condition called ichthyosis vulgaris) was just plain wrong. None of those things are true. The only truth is that my body became addicted to my use of topical, oral, and injected cortisone over time (used for mild to moderate eczema periodically through my life), and the severe symptoms I was experiencing in the last three years was my body’s attempt to withdrawal from the drugs. Only I wasn’t letting it. I kept using them more than ever actually (among other drugs), as recommended by my doctor.
In March 2012, I stopped using the steroids for good, and that July I met with Dr. Marvin Rapaport, the dermatologist who discovered this issue, and he confirmed my diagnosis. The prognosis: I will heal and my skin will one day be totally normal again! The prescription: Time. And sun, eventually, but not right away.
I haven’t looked back since.
Well, that’s not entirely true. This journey has been mighty hard, and I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve looked back and wished I’d done things differently in the past; wished I found ITSAN sooner, wished I’d never used all the terrifying other treatments my doctor’s suggested when nothing else was working, wished I could have powered through those minor flares in college rather than resorting to steroids to clear me up.
Here are the links to my blog posts relating to my topical steroid withdrawal: (If you prefer to have all these posts on one screen, simply click the Categories tab on the right, and choose “Topical Steroid Addiction and Withdrawal” from the list!)
- Thanks guys… (the first half of this post relates to TSW)
- TSW: Months 14-16
- TSW Fashion
- Extra, extra! (Blogs to share)
- Ouch (13 month update)
- One year update (before and after pics)
- Snow day
- Eight months
- Jolly Green Munchkin
- A Walk to Remember
- The Tough Stuff
- A Big Deal (Short sleeves!)
Finally, don’t forget to visit the ITSAN website to read more about TSA/W, and please donate if you can!