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August 29, 2014

Topical Steroid Withdrawal | Fifth Month Update

(image: Pinterest)

Nothing major happened in July, but there is one new thing: in the first week of July, my lips - which had been mostly unaffected by TSW until this month - started being incredibly dry and cracked. I tried to heal them with many different sorts of lipbalms, but nothing helped - in fact, they only seemed to get worse - they even started oozing and being itchy, a bit like what my face was like in the first months, but less intense! This is when I decided that I would not use any more lipbalm and let my lips do their own thing. But as they continued oozing (the worst was in the corners), I realized maybe they could get infected so I started applying Fucidin (topical antibiotic), which did not seem to change anything really. As I am typing this, my lips are still very dry, cracked and oozy, and the worst is when I eat - my lips will crack even more and I can notice ooze dripping from those cracks. Then the ooze will dry to a yellow/brown crusts in a few areas, but the cycle starts again as soon as I use my lips too much.

As for the stubborn open wounds on three of my fingers, the disgusting grey crusts would continue to form to cover them even if I picked them off or if they fell by themselves, and the wounds underneath always remained wet and never seemed to heal. I was getting a bit worried about them so I decided to apply Fucidin on them too, but it did not change anything. I finally decided to share my concern on the Eczema & Topical Steroid Withdrawal-Red Skin Syndrome Support Group on Facebook, and of course, this group being full of amazingly supportive people, someone pointed me to this blog post about the moist wound healing method, which I had never heard about! I did a bit more research about this and found this interesting article full of - very graphic - pictures proving the magic of the moist wound healing method. Basically, cell growth needs moisture and the principle aim of moist wound therapy is to create and maintain optimal moist conditions. Cells can grow, divide and migrate at an increased rate to optimize the formation of new tissue. Also, it is said that when this technique is used, wounds can heal up to 50% faster, and there is no scarring! This makes absolute sense, so in the last week of July, I started using this method, which bascially goes like this: you clean the area with water, apply a generous layer of vaseline and apply a bandaid or dressing pad (secured with microporous tape). After a few days, I could notice the wounds had shrinked in size - I could not believe it! Finally! They are not healed yet but I will update you on this on my next update post.

Since June, both of my nipples have been raw, irritated, itchy and constantly oozing. I would always put toilet paper or even panty liners inside my bra cups to prevent them from rubbing on my bra and sticking to it - ouch! - but they would never heal. I just started using the moist wound healing method on them too, so I will keep you updated.

Another first in July: I decided to have only one bath on a cold night, and I even dared to try using LUSH Ceridwen's Cauldron, which is one of the very few LUSH products that don't contain SLS. Made with whole oats and cocoa butter, this left my body really soft without making it flare! I was not able to stay in the bath for long since my face started sweating (?!) and itching because of the heat, even though the water was not that hot... I guess it's because my body still has trouble regulating temperature. Anyway, it was nice while it lasted!

Summary of my condition during the fifth month:

  • sleep schedule was the same as the past month: I go to sleep at around 1:00 or 2:00AM, wake up several times during the night, and get up around 12:30PM
  • my energy is the same as the past month (I feel constantly tired and I am never in the mood to do anything)
  • my face flared twice (dry, red, irritated and itchy spots on forehead, cheeks and around mouth), and each flares lasts about a week
  • my hands appear to be healed (except for the fingers with wet wounds) but I continue to be careful with them and limit exposure to water (I wear gloves to shower and wash my hair)
  • my whole body continues to look almost 100% normal, except for a few irritated aread and scars from itching, especially on areas that don't "breath" as much as others (waist area, behind knees, under boobs) - this is caused by humidity, which is hard to deal with since the sun is good for healing but humidity is an itch inducer
  • I still limit showering, and I wash with water only

I did not feel like going out or really do anything during July - my energy was just always so low, which I first attributed to not sleeping well, but after some research, I found that extreme fatigue is mostly due to stress on the adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for regulating many important bodily functions, one of them being cortisol. Whit the use of topical steroids, the cortisone from the creams fools the body into thinking it is producing sufficient cortisol, and the adrenal glands slow down cortisol production. When steroid creams are suddenly stopped, the adrenal glands need time to recover and start making their own cortisol again, and this is what causes the fatigue. I saw some friends a few times but I would always come back early since I am exhausted so easily. I am really OK staying home and relaxing without stress for now - not to mention that when I go out, I tend to drink! I enjoy reading, playing video games (I'm currently almost finished with Zelda: Twilight Princess), watching TV shows (Vikings, The Tudors and Orange Is The New Black) and movies.

2 comments:

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    1. Merci des encouragements Val, ça me fait vraiment beaucoup de bien! :D

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