MY RECOVERY TIMELINE THROUGH ECZEMA AND TSW

Thank you for reading about my journey through eczema and Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW).

I’d like to give a special shout out to all the TSW warriors out there who are going through this simply awful experience and I sincerely hope you will read more about nutrition, detox, and other ways to heal on this website. You don’t have to just sit and wait for this painful process to complete on its own. Take charge of your health and give your body what it needs to support itself during this intense healing process.

For over 25 years, I was prescribed topical steroid creams to treat eczema on my hands. My eczema got worse over the years and I was prescribed stronger creams every time the old ones started to become less effective. Toward the end of 2014 it started to spread from my hands to my upper arms and toes. Unbeknownst to me, my skin became addicted to the steroid creams. When I fortunately stumbled upon the concept of Topical Steroid Withdrawal on the internet in January 2015, I realized that my skin was craving the creams and that’s why the eczema was worsening. I knew I had to stop the steroid creams cold turkey and I did – in February 2015.

TIMELINE OF STEROID ADDICTION AND STEROID WITHDRAWAL

Here is a timeline of my experience. The eczema never went away during all these years prior to 2015. It was just “less bad” at times. By the way, I’m so thankful that I took the time to write my symptoms down every night before bed during my recovery from TSW. It enabled me to see patterns that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed and it’s the only reason I have such a detailed account of my recovery.

Some of my steroid creams from over the years

PATH TO TOPICAL STEROID ADDICTION

Age 11 – Eczema started on one finger

Age 13 – Started using steroid creams on finger

Age 17 – 32 – Eczema spread to 2 fingers. Occasional flares on legs & scalp. Spot treated with steroid creams on a regular basis for the next 16 years.

Age 33 – Eczema spread to 5 fingers. Still occasional flares on scalp. Continued to spot treat on a regular (almost daily) basis. Dermatologists said not to worry about over using the creams since I had “severe eczema”.

Age 35 –Eczema spread to all 10 fingers and both palms. Diagnosed as “dishydrotic” eczema – meaning there were tiny blisters filled with serum right under the skin and they itched like CRAZY. Not a normal itch. The skin would crack and bleed easily. Oftentimes I couldn’t shake people’s hands and it led to many awkward moments. I couldn’t bathe my babies without being in pain. Washing my own hair was painful. When the blisters would start, the creams would help make them go away for a period of time, but always to return again. The general itchiness was constant.

Age 36 – I tried a new dermatologist and he prescribed a daily low dose antibiotic and a stronger steroid cream. I took the antibiotic for most of this year which may have contributed to my Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Despite the prescribed antibiotic and stronger steroid creams, the eczema on my hands did not improve at all and it even started to spread to my upper arms toward the end of the year.

Age 37 – The eczema “blisters” started to form on my toes for the first time ever. I went back to the dermatologist and told him that his protocol was not working and that my eczema was getting worse. He said we just didn’t find the right antibiotic match for the bacteria on my skin and he prescribed a different antibiotic. He also gave me a stronger steroid cream AND a steroid injection. This was my first and last injection and I regretted it almost immediately. I just had that gut feeling that this was bad news and I should have listened to my intuition. But it did spur me to do a TON of research on eczema and steroids and I eventually ended up on ITSAN.org where I realized that I was addicted to topical steroid creams and that this addiction was now causing the eczema. In fact I didn’t have true eczema anymore — I had steroid induced eczema.

I realized that I had to quit the steroids cold turkey and that I would likely go through Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), also known as Red Skin Syndrome. From my research, I learned this would likely be a one to three year period where my skin would be red, inflamed, oozing, painful, swollen, and that it could get so bad that I might need to quit my job and spend my days laying in bed in agony and spending hours in the bathtub to try to get small periods of relief. Needless to say, I was absolutely terrified. Read the stories on ITSAN.org and you’ll understand why.

And then please read my TSW timeline below to see how I avoided the worst of the worst during this withdrawal by finding functional medicine, eating a non-inflammatory diet, and supporting my body through this intense healing process.

JOURNEY THROUGH TOPICAL STEROID WITHDRAWAL

February 8, 2015 – I stopped using topical steroid creams cold turkey (after 25 years of near constant use on hands and occasional use on scalp and very occasionally on small areas of arms/legs). I also stopped the daily low dose antibiotic. I also began recording my symptoms each day since I knew this would be a long journey and I wanted to keep track of everything.

 

Month 1 of TSW
  • Month 1, Weeks 1-2 – Nothing new. Hands still itchy with cracked skin, as usual.
  • Month 1, Week 3 – My cheeks and eyelids started to sting when I put on my daily moisturizer that I had used for years. (Note – I had never used steroids on my face)
  • Month 1, Week 4 – My cheeks and eyelids became very tight, dry, scaly, rough, and painful. I could no longer wear make-up because it would start to “cake” right away from the dry, rough skin. Hands started to itch very badly and more tiny blisters formed on my fingers and palms. Tiny bumps (not blisters) started appearing on the tops of my hands, and the top of my right hand turned bright red (classic Red Skin Syndrome, which is synonymous with Topical Steroid Withdrawal). The top of my hands didn’t itch (yet) but they were shockingly bright red.
Month 2 of TSW
  • Month 2, Week 1 – Fingers swelled to be very large with lots of blisters. Extremely itchy and lots of oozing. This lasted about 1 week and then the blisters started to dry out and the swelling started to go down, over the course of the next 1-2 weeks. Then the dried blisters went through a scaly phase where the skin would shed and new skin would be underneath. (Note – for the first few months, a new “Flare” would start immediately after the old flare would dry up and flake off and this was a continual cycle, with each cycle lasting about 3 weeks from start (oozing/swelling/cracking) to finish (eventual peeling of the dried up blisters)).
  • Month 2, Week 2 – My left elbow was swollen, hot, and painful when I woke up one morning. I thought it was an infection and went to the neighborhood 24-hour clinic and they said it was infected bursitis and gave me an antibiotic. The swelling and pain went away after a few days. [Note: As you read on, you’ll see that this was actually due to inflammation, not an infection. Steroid creams suppress your immune system and therefore I had been suppressing my immune system for 25 years. Now that I was off the creams, my immune system was “waking up” and learning how to be an immune system again. This takes time and the immune system will “misfire” and cause inflammation in your body until it figures things out.]
  • Month 2, Week 3 – Saw a naturopath and started an anti-inflammatory diet per her recommendation. No gluten, grains, dairy, or added sugars.
  • Month 2, Week 4 – Palms felt pretty smooth and not itchy so I saw a bit of improvement from the eczema I had for so many years. My fingers were still very dry but not itchy. Tops of hands that had turned bright red a few weeks earlier were now itchy and the skin there felt very rough and dry. I started to get some itchy bumps on one side of my neck.
Month 3 of TSW
  • Month 3, Week 1 – Itchy bumps started to spread to more parts of my neck. Tops of hands became even more red and more itchy. My back stated to hurt whenever I laughed and whenever I laid down. [Note: The back pain only lasted for a few days – but looking back this was obviously some type of inflammation resulting from an impaired immune system.]
  • Month 3, Week 2 – New flare started on hands. Blisters formed and became extremely itchy and hands and fingers became swollen and ooze started. Itchy bumps on neck started to spread down to collar bone and upper chest. My elbow became swollen and painful again. I went to an internist and he put a needle in the swollen elbow to try to pull fluid out to test it for MRSA, but there was no fluid in there. He said this must be a serious infection since it came back after the first round of antibiotics and therefore he prescribed me a stronger antibiotic this time. I was getting scared at this point so I made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for the following day. The orthopedic took an x-ray of the elbow and said everything looked fine, but that this must be a serious infection and we needed to get rid of it before it got into the bone or spread throughout the body. At this point I was REALLY scared. He prescribed a third round of antibiotics and told me to take it along with the other antibiotic that the internist had prescribed the day before. [Side note – I told both these doctors that I was withdrawing from topical steroids and thought maybe this elbow was somehow related, and they simply told me that eczema can’t be cured and I just needed to start the creams again.]
  • Month 3, Week 3 – My neck started to get better. I had been eating a non- inflammatory diet for exactly one month and toward the end of this week I went out of town and got off my diet for 6 days. I ate gluten, dairy, sugars, etc. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “BIG MISTAKE. HUGE!”
  • Month 3, Week 4 – Within 3 days of “cheating” on my diet, the rash on my neck turned ANGRY, RED, and started spreading to my entire neck (it was only on about 50% of my neck previously). Instead of small dry bumps it now looked like red, thick gooseflesh. It was an itch like I’ve never before experienced and I couldn’t stop clawing at it. Night time was the worst and I would claw at it in my sleep and it would keep me awake. I would wake up with blood on my pillow and sheets. At this same time, the worst flare yet began on my hands and fingers. My belly and legs started itching all over and I decided to go back on the anti-inflammatory diet.

3-2015-05-10-neck-1-month-1-1

The rash spread to my neck

Month 4 of TSW
  • Month 4, Week 1 – My fingers were so swollen that I couldn’t make a fist. They were cracking, oozing, and terribly itchy. I was soaking my hands daily in domeboro solution to try to get some relief. It helped the cracks heal a bit faster, but overall I was in a ton of pain and my hands looked and felt worse than ever. My husband had to wash my hair in the sink for the next month because it was far too painful for me to do it. I almost had my wedding ring cut off because it was stuck on my swollen and inflamed fingers and I was worried it would cut off circulation.

4-2015-05-06-hands-first-visit-to-dr-erin-1

A close up of my fingers at Month 4

 

Elephant skin is a common side effect during TSW

Elephant skin is a common side effect during TSW

I started to get elephant skin on my neck. When I turned my head, it looked like I had rolls of excess skin. [Side note: “Elephant skin” is a common side effect of TSW and does eventually go away. The elephant skin on my neck only lasted 1-2 months. The elephant skin on my fingers and knuckles took much longer and is still on my knuckles.] 

I started to get folliculitis on my legs this week (which is one of the side effects of TSW for some people according to ITSAN.org). About 20 “infected hair follicles” showed up on my legs almost overnight. They were itchy and a little painful. They had a puss top and would leave a purple scar once they eventually went down. Each bump lasted for a few days and I would get a few new bumps each day. [Side note: This lasted for about 1 month, and then the bumps were less numerous (maybe 6-8 at any given time) for another 2 months. After that, the bumps came only occasionally and when they did, they were much smaller, typically did not have a puss top, and were less inflamed. Even after a year into TSW I would get an occasional 1-2 bumps but they rarely had a puss top. They were just itchy little bumps and went away after about 2 days.]

THIS IS WHEN I WAS INTRODUCED TO FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE. This changed my life and greatly sped up my recovery from TSW.  Read on to learn more about the protocol Dr. Erin recommended to support my body during this intense healing process.  It involved detoxing through lymphatic massage and ionic foot baths, eating a non-inflammatory diet, and taking numerous supplements to address the imbalances in my functional blood work labs.

  • Month 4, Week 2 – Elephant skin spread a bit to my cheeks and to the outside of my eyes. The tops of my hands were rough like sandpaper and the bright red color would come and go daily. The bright red color was also spreading to my wrists. I started to occasionally get sudden nerve pain in my neck (“zingers”). The folliculitis spread to my belly. My face started to get very tight and itchy and had white flakes all over it. My ears turned bright red and were itchy and scaly. I got the blood work back from my initial visit with Dr. Erin and this week I started the supplements that she recommended. Essentially, my immune system was shot (due to the steroid creams) and my estrogen levels were dangerously high (also due to the steroid creams). My iron and Vitamin D levels were too low. The supplements were addressing all of these issues and for the first time I finally began supporting my body as my body was trying so hard to heal itself. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves and they are ALWAYS working on doing this. When we support our bodies (through diet, detox, exercise) then it speeds up our healing immensely. This is so important that I want to say it again. WHEN WE SUPPORT OUR BODIES (through diet, detox, exercise) THEN IT SPEEDS UP OUR HEALING IMMENSELY!!!
  • Month 4, Week 3 – The glands in my neck became swollen and remained for several weeks. This is another classic symptom of TSW according to ITSAN.org. My hands and neck were very itchy all week. My fingers were swollen and it was hard to fully straighten them. I did my first ionic foot bath this week. Dr. Erin prescribed two foot baths a week for the first three months to help my body detox all of the many toxins it was dealing with. My foot baths were black for the first 2-3 months and I couldn’t see my feet at the end of each 23 minute procedure. The water was black with all of the toxins.

First Ionic Foot Bath


Ionic Foot Bath 8 Months Later

  • Month 4, Week 4 – Another flare started this week. But on the bright side, the flares seemed to be shortening in length. Early on it was about 2-3 weeks from start (swollen, oozing, cracking fingers) to finish (peeling of dried blisters). Although the new flares still begin immediately after the old flare peels off, the flares are beginning to shorten in length (about 5-7 days now).

So there is about one flare per week now. I did my first lymphatic massage this week. Dr. Erin prescribed 2 lymph massages per week for the first 3 months (along with the 2 ionic foot baths per week). Both of these were prescribed to assist my body though the major detox it was going through. [Note: The steroid creams (and for me, also the many antibiotics) are all toxins to our bodies and our bodies must detox them fully for us to be healed. I firmly believe that the people who experience full body TSW and 1- 3 years of itchy, red, angry, swollen skin can shorten this agony greatly by 1) Eating a non-inflammatory diet and 2) Assisting their body through the detox process via foot baths, lymphatic massage, and many other detoxing activities. Our skin is our largest detox organ. TSW warriors, I have so much love and compassion for you. And that is why I ask you to please assist your bodies in this detox!!! It is a lot for your body to do alone. Please contact me if you want to do this and don’t know where to start.]

This week I started drinking a green smoothie every day. It is such an easy and yummy way to get in the daily greens that your body so badly needs, especially while your body it is working so hard to heal from so many years of steroid use. [Side note: I LOVE my daily smoothies and simply cannot live without them. During my recovery I drank a smoothie every morning with breakfast and every evening with dinner. I typically fill them with spinach, kale, banana, cucumber, frozen blueberries, frozen pineapple, and a big tablespoon of coconut oil. Soooo healthy! I make a 64 oz smoothie in my Vitamix and store the leftovers in glass mason jars and therefore I always have green smoothies on hand for me and for the kids. Read more about my green smoothies.]

Month 5 of TSW
  • Month 5, Week 1
    Right hand at Month 5 of TSW

    Right hand at Month 5 of TSW

    Had two days this week when I wasn’t itchy and my hands were not swollen or oozing or peeling. WOW!! But then another flare started. Also during this time my hands were not bright red and my neck was a bit pink but not red like before.When this week’s flare started, I noticed fewer blisters on my swollen fingers. My fingers were still itchy though and the flare dried up and peeled off toward the end of the week. The skin on my face finally stopped flaking (after many weeks) but the skin under my cheeks seemed very loose and resembled elephant skin. I saw elephant skin forming at my inner elbows, wrists, and knuckles. The elephant skin that had been on my neck for many weeks was still there but instead of looking like thick gooseflesh it now started to feel almost paper thin. I still had folliculitis on my legs, but the bumps were less swollen and new ones started showing up less frequently. I started to experience “urgent urination” this week, which just means that when I noticed I needed to go to the bathroom, I REALLY had to go and could barely hold it. There was no warning sign that I might need to pee soon. Nope, it went from 0 to 60 in no time flat and I found myself running for the bathroom on many occasions. This too was a sign of our old friend that we know as inflammation. [Side note: This lovely symptom lasted about 3-4 weeks.]  My hands started to tingle whenever they were hanging down at my sides. I think the increased blood flow was causing this. Steroids constrict your blood vessels and I think at this point my blood vessels were starting to open up again. Strangely, the veins in my arms started to look very pronounced whenever this happened.

  • Month 5, Week 2 – A slight rash started on my upper arms and forearms this week. It was red and splotchy and a little bumpy. My neck was noticeably less itchy this week and my face started to feel very smooth for the first time in months. This is the first week I didn’t have a full flare on my hands/fingers with blisters. My fingers were itchy, dry, and cracking, but no blisters this time. Nice! But feelings of urgent urination continued. My close friends started approaching me and telling me that I looked very sick and they were worried about me. And I did look terrible. My complexion was very sallow and I was getting too thin. In hindsight, I now know that this was from the detoxing (foot baths, lymph massages, supplements). When you go through an intense detox, the toxins that had been stored in your body and in your fat are released into your bloodstream as they prepare to exit your body. While the toxins are in your bloodstream, they make you look and feel sicker. Most people who go through a detox experience 1-2 weeks of feeling bad until the toxins are all out. Those of us with TSW are on a completely different level, though. We have so many toxins in our body (steroids) that it takes much longer to detox them out. (And remember – your skin is your largest detox organ!). So during this time our skin looks terrible, our bodies (joints and skin) becomes inflamed, andwe look and feel awful for a period time. Friends – this is the detox process at its finest. And this is another reason to support your body through this process by assisting it in the detox effort. Your recovery will be much easier and much faster. Don’t wait for time to take its course!!! Time will work….but why spend 1-3 years in this agony? There is a different way.
  • Month 5, Week 3 – I had been very tired lately. Detoxing is hard work!! Your body actually is working quite hard during an intense detox. My hands were less red this week. Feelings of urgent urination continued. Another week with no itchy blisters on my fingers!! They were still very itchy and dry/cracked but the lack of the oozing blisters was very much appreciated. I still had folliculitis on my legs but the bumps appeared to be less swollen lately.
  • Month 5, Week 4 – I had a small flare on my fingers with blisters, but this flare lasted only a few days (complete with itchy, swollen fingers and oozing) and then dried and peeled off. My wrist became swollen and sore for a few days this week. Just like with my elbow months earlier, this was a sign of inflammation as my immune system was learning how to be an immune system again. Some mis-firings are bound to happen during this process. Feelings of urgent urination continued this week.
Month 6 of TSW
  • Month 6, Week 1 – My energy level was noticeably better this week. My neck was not red at all and did not itch. And the feelings of urgent urination were gone! Most of the folliculitis bumps on my legs had dried up and new ones were coming only occasionally and were not as swollen as before. My fingers were very dry this week and the dry/dead skin was peeling off in large chunks.
  • Month 6, Week 2 – I think I turned a corner!! My energy was up this week and I even had a burning desire to exercise. My left hand seemed to be improving a bit more than the right hand and the elephant skin on the left knuckles was reducing. Hands were itchy this week but no major swelling or cracking. And since we are friends by now I feel comfortable telling you that my bowel movements are no longer smelly!! Wow, aren’t they supposed to be smelly? Doesn’t everyone’s sh*t stink?? I always thought so (partially because I live with my husband and there definitely ain’t no roses in there.) But, I now know that it really isn’t supposed to stink. In a healthy digestive system, you should poo 1-3 times per day and it should be fairly effortless and should not be too smelly. Once I started the detox with Dr. Erin almost two months earlier, I started poo’ing 3-4 times per day. That’s another sign of a good detox. In the beginning you will poo A LOT and it definitely won’t smell like roses. But those toxins have to leave your body somehow and there are only a few exit channels from your body (urine, bowels, and your skin). I read somewhere that during a detox you can shed several pounds of old fecal matter that has just been “hanging out” in your intestines. So, by this week in my TSW recovery, I was poo’ing 2-3 times a day and it was all roses (well, you know….).
  • Month 6, Week 3 – Well, I started to feel tired again this week. Two steps forward, one step back. My fingers were dry and itchy and cracking (but I hadn’t seen the blisters and oozing for a few weeks!!). Also, I started to gain back some weight which was awesome as I was getting sickly thin. [Note: Much of the reason for the low weight was SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and not the steroid withdrawals.  People with SIBO do not absorb all the nutrients from the foods they eat. I had taken antibiotics many times in recent years, and antibiotics are one of the contributing factors to SIBO. My 2014 dermatologist had me on a daily low dose antibiotic to help fight eczema.  No bueno.] 
  • Month 6, Week 4 – My fingers were really itchy this week. The skin on my hands lately has been very dry and flakey and it looks like dandruff when I scratch it. My right ear turned bright red and became very itchy this week.
Month 7 of TSW
  • Month 7, Week 1 – I started to get itchy bumps on my inner elbows and forearms this week. Also started to look like elephant skin on my inner elbows. But all of this only lasted for 1-2 weeks and then went away.
  • Month 7, Week 2 – Real roller coaster this week. I would feel good for a few days, then dizzy for a few days, then weak and cranky for a few days and had a headache. My left hand continued to improve and I could straighten all the fingers on that hand with absolutely no feelings of tightness, so the swelling was gone. The right hand fingers were still a bit swollen. Both hands were still itchy.
  • Month 7, Week 3 – Had another flare on my hands/fingers. No oozing thankfully, but they got swollen, itchy, and started cracking. My left ear lobe became red, itchy, and felt hot. My neck and head felt tight and stiff and I had a constant headache. I noticed that I started losing more hair in the shower this week. [Side note: This lasted for several months. I was never at risk of going bald, but it was the same large amount of hair loss that I experienced during my pregnancies. This is also a common symptom of TSW according to ITSAN.org.]
  • Month 7, Week 4 – My neck was very sore and it hurt to look up and it even hurt my neck every time I swallowed. The skin on my neck was fine, but my neck itself was sore. Both ear lobes were swollen, red and very itchy. Fingers were itchy but didn’t flare this week.
Month 8 of TSW
  • Month 8, Week 1 – The swelling on my ears went down and now the skin was scaling and flaking off. My neck was no longer sore. At this point I was still getting about 5-10 new leg bumps (folliculitis) each week (but better than each day!). And the leg bumps were much smaller and lasted only 1-2 days and did not have a puss top like before.
  • Month 8, Week 2 – I vacationed in Colorado this week and my skin was fairly clear and not too itchy when I arrived. But on the 4 th day I developed an itchy rash on my stomach and my fingers became swollen and my thighs started itching. I also started to get more folliculitis bumps on my legs. I’m guessing the sudden weather change (from Texas to Colorado) made my skin react and just the overall dryness of Colorado probably contributed greatly.
  • Month 8, Week 3 – I returned to Texas this week and the swelling in my fingers went down within 24 hours and the stomach rash went away. My fingers started peeling toward the end of the week. I had about 15 folliculitis bumps on my legs from the past few days and many had a puss top and were itchy. Also my neck became very sore and hurt whenever I looked to the left (not a skin issue but a muscle/inflammation issue). The soreness lasted for about a week.
  • Month 8, Week 4 – The fingers on my right hand swelled this week but not on the left. But no blisters or oozing. I had 2 migraines this week (I usually get one every 4-5 months). I got a compliment this week!!! I have to stress this because I have been looking quite terrible these last few months because of the major detox and the worst of it was now over. A friend told me, “Your skin is glowing and your eyes look really green today.” I almost kissed her. Seriously. On the mouth. Also, for the first time in over 3 months the water in my ionic foot bath looked better and I could actually see my feet!! Real proof that the major part of the detox was over for me!! [Side Note: I had been doing 2 ionic foot baths and 2 lymphatic massages every week for the past 3 months to assist in this detox].
Month 9 of TSW
  • Month 9, Week 1 – At church this week one of our guy friends told my husband that I’m looking better. YAY! Another compliment! The next day, a guy at work said to me, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s working. Keep it up.” Woo-hoo!!! This week I could just tell that the inflammation in my body was suddenly decreased. My hands were better and not itchy, not swollen, and the only lingering issue with them was that they were u.g.l.y. and had elephant skin on the knuckles. The leg bumps were almost all gone. Then toward the end of the week my ear lobes became itchy and swollen and my legs became very itchy. Like I said, two steps forward, one step back.
  • Month 9, Week 2 – My legs and ear lobes were extremely itchy this week and I had another migraine.
  • Month 9, Week 3 – Fingers were a little itchy this week but not swollen or cracking. Just generally dry. My lower back and my neck became sore again and lasted for 3 weeks (inflammation).
  • Month 9, Week 4 – Lower back and neck were still sore this week. My lips became very chapped for the first time. Hands were dry but felt very smooth. I had soft bowels this week and pimples on my forehead (my body was probably going through another detox phase).
Month 10 of TSW
  • Month 10, Week 1 – Lower back and neck were still sore this week. I had soft bowels and forehead pimples again this week. Hands felt pretty good but they looked dry, white, and scaly.
  • Month 10, Week 2 – Back and neck pain went away. Lips were still chapped. Fingers and ear lobes starting itching toward the end of the week.
  • Month 10, Week 3 – Hands felt pretty good this week and not too itchy overall. Had some stomach aches and loose bowels. Had a strong sensation of blood flowing into my hands every time my hands were down by my side.
  • Month 10, Week 4 – Fingers were swollen this week and it was hard to straighten them. But still no blisters or oozing, thankfully. They did have a few cracks in them that bled and itched. I noticed that I wasn’t losing as much hair in the shower anymore (after about 3 months of losing lots of hair during each shower).
Month 11 of TSW
  • Month 11, Week 1 – Hands were better this week.
  • Month 11, Week 2 – My body was very itchy this week (legs, arms, hands), especially when I was in the shower. But no swelling or oozing or cracking. Just a really annoying itch.
  • Month 11, Week 3 – I was sick this week with laryngitis, a sore throat, and a cough. I got about 15 leg bumps (folliculitis) and several had a puss top. Overall my immune system was down from being sick and that always affects my skin. My hands were very itchy. I started using essential oils this week for the first time and fell in love with them immediately! My kids had the same junk that I had and I was diffusing Thieves (essential oils) all week and using several other oils and I think it helped all of us recover more quickly. [Side note: I don’t recommend using essential oils topically on the skin during the worst stages of TSW.  Only diffuse them during this time.  For topical use, wait until your skin is healthier and can handle the potency of these natural but intense oils. At this point my skin was healthy enough to benefit from the oils.]
  • Month 11, Week 4 – My legs were a little itchy this week. Most of the leg bumps were gone from last week though. My hands were not at all swollen and they actually felt pretty smooth! Still had elephant skin on my knuckles.
Month 12 of TSW
  • Month 12, Week 1 – I was slightly itchy all over this week but it wasn’t too terrible. Got a couple new leg bumps with a puss top. But hands felt good early on and then fingers swelled a little toward the end of the week.
  • Month 12, Week 2 – Body and legs still a bit itchy this week but overall not too bad. However, I flew to El Paso toward the end of the week and my fingers became very swollen within hours of arriving. It was either the sudden change to very dry weather or it was being in a house full of second hand smoke (or a combination of both).
  • Month 12, Week 3 – Returned home from El Paso and was still a bit itchy all over. Toward the end of the week my fingers became very swollen and tight (hard to straighten my fingers) and felt extremely dry and itchy. I had about 10 new leg bumps over night, some with a puss top.
  • Month 12, Week 4 – Leg bumps went down but legs were still a little itchy all over. Had a big pitch at work this week so felt a bit stressed and had a migraine one day. This week I started drinking bone broth (made my own in the Instant Pot – an electric pressure cooker that I cannot live without!!). Bone broth is extremely healthy and healing to the gut. Most of us with eczema (heck, most people in America regardless of eczema!) have an unhealthy gut and could benefit from drinking bone broth regularly. But that’s a different soap box….. I also started yoga this week. L.O.V.E. I.T. [Side note: I did a 4- week Beginner I series, followed by a 4-week Beginner II series, and now I’m an addict. Yoga is extremely healthy for the mind, body, and spirit.] 
Month 13 of TSW
  • Month 13 – Body was generally itchy this month but I really only noticed it first thing in the morning and at night when I took a shower. Every once in a while my fingers would swell slightly and get extra itchy, but it only lasted about 2 days each time. Afterwards it would crack and bleed slightly and then dry up, peel off, and become smooth again (still very dry – but at least felt smooth to the touch). Had a few leg bumps (folliculitis) this month but they were very small, flat (not swollen), and did not have a puss top. They went away after 1-2 days each time.

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Hand at Month 13

Month 14 of TSW
  • Month 14 – Early in the month my palms became very dry and there were a few tiny blisters under the skin (similar to the ones in the beginning of TSW) but they weren’t as bad and were short lived. My legs and belly had a general itchiness this month but only really bothered me first thing in the morning and at night when I showered. Toward the end of the month I got a bad cold and slight fever and the leg bumps showed up again….about 15 of them. They tend to make an appearance whenever my immune system is more run down. My right ear lobe became itchy and swollen at the same time but only lasted 2-3 days. I started daily dry skin brushing this month as a way to detox on a regular basis (and to save the cost of getting regular lymphatic massages). [Side note: Early in TSW my skin would never have been able to handle the rough bristles of the brush but at this point my skin is generally pretty healthy, though dry. I suspect the dry skin brushing will help with this. It not only exfoliates the skin, but it gets the lymph fluid moving which helps you detox. Your skin is your largest elimination organ and toxins leave through your skin, so exfoliating is important and so is stimulating the lymph.]
Month 15 of TSW
  • Month 15 – Still a bit itchy in the shower but not too itchy throughout the day.  My skin is pretty clear and I’m planning on some fun in the pool this summer!  It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to do that!

I know this was a lot of detail, but I hope it provided some encouragement for my TSW friends who are in the worst part of their recovery. This too shall pass.

Please contact me if I can be of help to you in your journey.

 

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