A guest blog by Eden Brown
Feeling out of control is very common for those who suffer from Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), and more than any method, any cream, any diet, it's vital that you take time to breathe.
Taking a moment to rationalise your situation dials down stress and helps a lot with healing.
I think that this has been fundamental to the speed at which I've managed to accelerate my skin healing journey. Of course, avoiding triggers, discovering a method such as No Moisture Treatment (NMT) and cleaning up your diet will help, but I truly believe when I took the time to look after myself on the inside was when I saw the fastest improvement.
I started to get very despondent, as I am sure many others do when they are trying to find a solution for TSW. I was almost two months into my NMT when I hit a plateau. I had seen such rapid improvements, but after seven cycles of weeping, drying, cracking and shedding, I ‘hit a wall’ in the recovery process. I was extremely diligent with how much fluid I was taking in, not showering or bathing and making sure to exfoliate. Yet I was just not improving, and it was like my body had reached a new baseline and was no longer shocked into doing something to keep itself moving forwards.
Doing something positive about your internal well-being will in turn help your external healing. So whatever that method may be, whatever works for you personally, allowing yourself to let go of a lot of the anger and emotions of feeling out of control is better than any medicine.
Here are a few simple steps that I found helpful:
- Make sleep your biggest priority
Without a doubt this is what made the biggest difference to my healing: as soon as I made sleep a priority, I found that my skin's condition improved rapidly. I started to have long lie-downs, instead going to the gym, on those days when I was hit by extreme fatigue. This was hard for me, as I've been used to doing sport all of my life, but I had to listen to my body. Sleep turned out to be the biggest accelerator to my skin healing.
- Dress to impress
Even when my hair was not washed in over three weeks I would curl it and buy pretty scrunchies and accessories to help me feel better about going out with unwashed hair. By dressing well and looking after myself, it made me feel less stressed about how my face appeared. Dressing well acted as a distraction to others and particularly myself. Getting compliments on my outfit helped me to feel better and take my mind off my skin.
- Fresh Air
Getting fresh air not only makes a difference to your physical health but to your mental wellbeing too. I found that getting outside more not only made me feel better about my body but also my state of mind. The outdoors put everything into perspective and made me see the world in a much more positive light. Being outside really made me realise how insignificant my skin really was in comparison to the beautiful world outside.
- Exercise Regularly
Although resting is important and some doctors may suggest avoiding excess sweating, I found that regular exercise was hugely beneficial to me during my TSW. It acted as an escape but also helped to heal my skin by sweating out and encouraging my skin to regenerate itself.
- Find a community similar to you
Edit what you see – follow more skin orientated people so that it normalises skin ‘problems’. Once I found a community and let go of my shyness about what was going on, I felt like I had really taken ownership of my situation.
- Turn your phone off
Taking time to switch off from social media, emails, texts and being uncontactable I found really forced me to take time for myself. This in turn helped me to slow down and take my mind off a lot of things which I had no control of, such as opinions of others or pressures online. ‘Tuning out’ made me get more done in the day which helped me feel productive and in turn made me feel better about myself.
- Take time off
If you need to be on your own, stress at work may make it worse. Prioritising having some time off to allow my skin to heal was another game-changer for me. I needed to become more patient during the healing process and being at work made me more anxious and self-conscious to get better quickly. However, the time that I took off meant that I could just relax and prioritise getting better in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about people seeing me when I was feeling uncomfortable.
- Make your own happiness
Start to talk yourself into it rather than out of it, big yourself up and be your biggest fan. Things like taking pictures and videos can help you remember how far you have come really help but also simple things like talking about your healing to others in a self-promotion way is a great method to use to help start believing in yourself.
The basis of these tips are very simple. They do not require any money or any special creams or anyone else to do anything for you. It is a few easy changes to make in your life which I personally found were the key to my success. There are a lot of different opinions however, I did not find a ‘silver-bullet’ method or cream: I found the silver lining to TSW was taking time to enjoy the small things in life and take life a bit slower.
For more information about topical steroid withdrawal, check out the dedicated TSW corner in our Info Hub.