It’s important to make yourself comfortable and to manage the symptoms as best you can. Although as yet there are no proven medications that will speed up or eliminate the uncomfortable withdrawal process, there are certainly way of making things a bit easier for yourself. Here are some of our top tips:
Strategies For Managing Your TSW Journey
Emollients: use simple, non-irritant, unperfumed, oil or ointments as moisturisers - such as Skin Salvation - only; most conventional moisturisers can’t be tolerated on such sensitive skin.
However, in very severe cases, it may be worth exploring ‘No Moisture Treatment’, which eschews even natural emollients in favour of allowing your skin to re-learn how to hydrate itself.
Patch test anything you apply on your skin for 24 hrs before widespread use
Sleep aids: whether medical or natural; you need your rest to heal
Antihistamines: to control the itch
Pain control tablets: to manage the distressing sensations of TSW
Baths: with anti-infection or anti-itch agents such as:
- apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil or very dilute bleach can reduce risk of infection
- Oats in a sock
- Himalayan, Epsom or Dead Sea salts
- Baking soda
Cover up: try wraps, bandages, socks or gloves, either wet (ie with emollients) or dry depending on what works for you
Non-irritant laundry detergents: natural such as soap nuts, or those formulated for sensitive skin
Keep clean: launder sheets and hoover floors frequently, to clean up shed skin and avoid infection
Comfortable clothes: wear very soft, 100% cotton clothes or pyjamas
Keep comfy: treat yourself to soft comfortable blankets and towels
Cool down: fans, ice packs, ice cubes, homemade ice lollies etc. Some sufferers find whole body ‘cryotherapy’ (cold therapy) is very effective to calm down inflammation.
Nutrition: try to find a diet that works to nourish your body while avoiding possible triggers for flare-up. Check your gut health (try kefir and pro/prebiotics); supplement with omega oils; avoid inflammatory caffeine or sugar.
Take care of yourself: get support for your mental health as well as physical by joining groups, talking about it, or getting referred for counselling if need be.
“Have faith in the process, have faith that you will get better, that your body knows how to heal itself. And it will. You won’t be in pain forever!”
Getting Medical Help:
Ideally, everyone experiencing the symptoms of topical steroid addiction would be able to find a GP or dermatologist who understands the condition and will help them find an effective, safe management both for the TSA/TSW as well as for any underlying chronic skin condition.
For example, it’s vital that the risk of infection is taken seriously, flare-ups are managed effectively and that any withdrawal is done gently and gradually to avoid throwing your adrenal system into crisis. A good doctor will also make sure that any psychological effects of the withdrawal are taken into account, that you are treated with care and sensitivity, and referred for mental health care if necessary.
Unfortunately, it can be very hard to find medical professionals who even acknowledge the existence of TSA, let alone support patients through it. So most people going through TSW have to learn as much as they can and become experts in their own condition.
What Can Balmonds Do To Help?
Balmonds offer information and support, whether you’re going through topical steroid withdrawal, looking for safe long-term management strategies or wondering whether your symptoms match the condition.
Skin Salvation is a safe, effective, non-steroidal, intensively hydrating emollient that works in four crucial ways to help you manage your TSW or chronic dry skin:
- It is free from the preservatives, perfumes, parabens, essential oils, coconut oils, nut oils, soya, and other common irritants that can hurt so much when applied to such sore. sensitive skin.
- It nourishes depleted skin with the essential fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients the epidermis needs to repair and regenerate.
- It uses beeswax to protect broken or raw areas by providing a fine, protective barrier over the skin - like a sticking plaster over a wound - reducing itchiness and stinging.
- It hydrates, softens and conditions severely dry, flaking or shedding skin.
For more information about TSW, its symptoms and how to manage them, go to the ITSAN website.
With much gratitude to Harriet Hammond for her photographs on this page (follow @tswharriet on her TSW journey)
Other hashtags to follow for peer-to-peer support: #thisisnoteczema #tsw #TSWFab5
Current medical advice is not to use daily topical steroids continuously for more than two to four weeks; then the frequency should be tapered to twice weekly use.