Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Good news at 16 months

Well I have to say my skin has been going from strength to strength.  I want to point out that I use as little on my skin as possible and this seems to help.  I use a basic soap substitute ‘epaderm’ to wash and no moisturiser whatsoever.  The natural oils in my skin continue to improve and I very rarely have any dry areas to contend with.  The fact that it’s summertime is helping my skin along.   There is no doubt in my mind once you are at the later stages of healing the sun’s rays make a difference. I haven’t really flared in the last 4 months and very rarely feel itchy.  I continue to be less sensitive to products and no longer have an issue using shampoo and conditioner.  I eat what I want when I want and it doesn’t seem to have any effect on my skin whatsoever.  So all my thoughts and attempts to change my diet and cut out certain foods in the past was probably a waste of time.  It seems to me, looking back, that it was plain and simply the process of topical steroid and Protopic addiction and withdrawal that was causing all the problems.

So for everyone that is thinking about or going through the process I would like to say that it was the best thing I could have done and I hope the same for you.  I have to pinch myself when I think of how good my skin is compared to what it was like before.  I’m not saying I am totally over this yet although I am feeling like I’m over the worst.  Life is a million times better when your skin is no longer dragging you down.  

Saturday, 22 March 2014

One year Off Topical Steroids and Protopic

Well the long awaited one year mark of topical steroid addiction and withdrawal has been and gone.  To celebrate I invited out a few of my closest friends for a ‘Madhatters Tea Party’ at my local pub.  We got to dress up in over the top hats and feast on cakes and cocktails. It was something different and enjoyable and I felt it was important to celebrate this milestone.

Since the last big flare on my face a few weeks ago, that I documented in recent posts, I have completely stopped using Vaseline as a moisturiser.  I am now entering week 5 of no moisturiser and I would say that my skin is no worse for stopping.  In fact my skin seems in slightly better condition.  After the last bad flare I just decided to stop.  Initially the skin on my face and neck (where I used Vaseline) was very dry and taught and then after the first couple of weeks it began to improve and be less dry.  So currently I have little dry patches on my face that come and go.  The dry areas are no worse than when I was on moisturiser in fact they have improved and the skin seems in overall better condition.  My face is still sensitive and I have mini flares on and off throughout the week.  This results in slightly red blotchy appearance which is usually worse in the mornings and then improves during the day.  The skin around my eyes is also sensitive and I don’t seem to be tolerating make-up as well as I usually do.  In the mornings they are sometimes puffy and the lines are more visible than usual... given the look of an old hag! J  I am trying not to let this get to me, even though it makes me self conscious, as experience has taught me this is a faze and it will pass eventually.

On another positive note the rest of my body has completely healed, I have nice smooth supple skin.  I may get ever so slightly rashy in my inner arms every few days; however, this disappears within a day or so and doesn’t bother me.  The other major change I have noticed is the level of itchiness has all but disappeared.  The only place I get occasionally itchy is my problem areas on my face and neck.  It is so minimum now and I don’t even see it as a problem.  This is huge when I take the time to remember the years I spent itchy and especially over the past couple of years going through the addicted stage and withdrawal process I was demented with the itch!

Monday, 10 February 2014

my thoughts on moisturiser & skin update

Over the past few weeks my skin hasn’t been altogether happy.  Having had a good few months prior I was pretty bummed by this.  It started with my face starting to flush slightly and getting a little dry, followed by my eyes becoming swollen in the mornings.  Then I got a staph infection on my face and was on a course of antibiotics followed by a full on flare on my face.  Well the flare itself lasted for around 3 days followed by the usual cycle of drying out then flaking.  I am currently still in the very dried out parched skin stage.  I should add this is localised on my face/neck only.  The rest of my body I have silky smooth skin woop woop!!

I just wanted to mention my experience of using Vaseline as a moisturiser while going through withdrawal.  I found that I used it a lot during the first 3 months so I could move around more easily as my skin was terribly dry and sore.  I have to add at the time of application it use to make me flare initially and made my skin burn and become more irritable for the first 20 mins or so.  I felt at the time it was worth the initial reaction so I could have more supple skin once it calmed down.  The following few months were gradually improving skin and I found myself only needing to put moisturiser on the front of my neck as the rest of my body seemed to be producing more oils.  The last few weeks since my skin has been unsettled, I found again that through the increased dryness I was trying to put on more Vaseline which was then causing redness and irritability.

My conclusion is when my skin is flared or unsettled anything I put on it, in my case Vaseline (the tried and tested best option for me) makes my skin more irritable and likely to flare.  On the other hand when my skin is calm and in a good place I can put on Vaseline without any repercussions.  

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Update on 11 months

Why does no one get it?  Why are people so good at giving you advice on your skin or telling you how you should be dealing with it all.  I do understand it is usually coming from a good place.  The reality is though I am trying to deal with this withdrawal from topical steroid and protopic ointment the best way I know how.  I wish I could show more strength of character, be more optimistic in my outlook and deal with each flare head on.  Unfortunately when my face is one blotchy red, burning mess going into work scares the shit out of me.  I become this anxious, self conscious, irritated (let’s not forget the physical symptoms) person who I don’t like.

My 11 month flare mentioned in my second last blog has really knocked my confidence.. more so as it is solely concentrated on my face and neck, those areas others can see!  I’ll admit that this flare has resulted in me taking days of work.  I just feel on these days I am far too self conscious to face the world.  This leaves me feeling ashamed of myself as I know it could be a lot worse and some others have to contend with a lot more.  I somehow wish I had managed to force myself and dealt with the stares and comments, as I know the majority of people are kind and do not mean anything by it.  I feel that in a strange way I am unable to guage a realistic picture of how bad I actually am as so much of my time at present is spent stressing about the impact my skin is having on my appearance. 

Last week I ended up with a skin infection and on antibiotics, my glands swelled up like eggs!  Then I got an eye infection so was on antibiotic drops for that, which has left me with red swollen eyes and that horrid baggy eye look.  The burning sensation has come back so the last couple of nights I have had the ice packs out.  My face has taken on that slightly red familiar tinge again and is ultra dry and itchy.

As I read over this blog I realise how harsh I can be on myself and would urge others going through the withdrawal to be kind to themselves and understand we are all trying our best.  In life we can’t always meet the high expectations people have of us (or we feel they do) or more importantly the high expectations we set ourselves.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pictures from the first couple of months of withdrawing from topical steroids

I came across these pictures from the first couple of months of topical steroid withdrawal.

See how red, dry and sore my skin looks.

These red bumps started showing up all over in the first couple of months.

Red sleeve spreading down my arms, my skin colour is very pale normally.

Red raw from scratching!

I am pleased to say I have improved over the past 11 months since these pictures were taken.  I have the occasionally flare though it is never as bad as the first initial rebound/flare.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Month 11 Flare

Oh no my skin had been doing so well too then the last couple of weeks I could sense my skin wasn’t happy.  I was hoping it wouldn’t amount to anything, well you know where hoping gets you!  Today the skin on my face decided to take a turn for the worse.  I haven’t felt this level of irritation for months, my whole face is on fire and so very red!  The old familiar panic and worry sets in.  The questions start buzzing around my head. How long will the flare last this time? Will it get so bad that I am unable to work?  How will I be able to face people looking like this?  Will it stop me from doing social activities which I have planned and am looking forward to?  Is it something I have done wrong?  Maybe I have come into contact with something I shouldn’t have?  Maybe I ate something I shouldn’t have?  Had the central heating on too long?  The reality is I have no friggin idea why it has happened other than this is the unpredictable nature of topical steroid withdrawal. 

It’s almost the not knowing and the uncertainty with this withdrawal process that makes it so difficult.  If I knew when and how long the flares would last for I feel it would make it easier to come to terms with and I would be able to make plans around the flares.

You could make yourself nuts trying to figure out the whys... it just is and in a way thinking of it like this makes this whole frustrating process somehow easier to deal with.  I need to cut myself some slack and stop overwhelming myself with worry.  This is a journey I’m on and when I reach the end all the trauma surrounding topical steroid addiction and withdrawal it will all fade into a distant memory.  Wow what an amazing feeling that will be when my skin is not my main focus in life... bliss!!!