About

who am i?

juliana antisteroid steroid withdrawal after
HELLO, this is me on 7 july 2014.

my name is juliana, that’s all you really need to know about me!
if you’re curious, i’m born in 1989.
currently residing in singapore.

i’ve used steroids for a total of 8 years.
the first few years were calm, steroid usage were minimal.
but towards the last few years, i was using steroids on a daily basis, twice a day.
before i know it, i was slathering it as though it’s my moisturizer all over my  body.

i’ve quit topical steroids cold turkey sometime in april 2011.
you can drop me an e-mail at sugarcrusted@gmail.com if you need to ask more personal questions relating to TSW.

what is this blog about?

this blog is mainly to share with you my first hand encounter with topical steroid withdrawals (also known as red skin syndrome). i document my recovery as well as share things that i’ve learnt upon reflecting on the past in hope of giving useful tips to new skin warriors who have just embarked on their TSW journey. you can also call me your TSW tour guide, for i’ll show you the things you may see during your TSW journey.

the underlying message is to encourage everyone who are stuck in the seemingly endless topical steroid withdrawal recovery phrase by delivering bite size hope and encouragement in the form of assurance that if i can heal, so can you.

the next step for this blog will be to show the general public the true danger of long term topical steroids usage, filling up the knowledge gap that most dermatlogists created.

what is topical steroid withdrawal?

you can read more about it here. but i shall be a sweetie and summarize it for you.

topical steroid withdrawal is the rebound symptoms when a person addicted to topical steroids stops using topical steroids once and for all. the rebound symptoms looks a lot like the common “worsening eczema” that dermatologist passes off as – spreading rashes, red and dry skin, intense itching. but there is something new – the redness is usually full bodied, and it burns!

what about topical steroid addiction?

we always thought that it’s only possible to get addicted to oral steroids. contrary to popular belief, our skin can get addicted to topical steroids too.

the proposed mechanism by dr fukaya seems legit. the long term application of topical steroids will weaken the skin barrier by thinning the outermost layer of our skin, the weakened skin becomes more susceptible to external stimulus once you stop applying steroids, resulting in “flare ups” once steroid usage cease. what will the rational person do when their rashes come back after stopping steroids? the logical reaction is to apply steroids to make it go away again.

apply steroids -> rashes go away (skin thins) -> stop steroids -> rashes come back -> apply steroids again -> rashes go away again (skin thins even more) -> it’s a cycle.

what is my steroid usage history?

click on the image to read the entire account of my story. because i know you don’t have time to read through that essay.. YOU’RE WELCOME. ;)

i used topical steroids like it’s my moisturizing lotion all over my body towards the last few years of my steroid addicted life. FML i know..

what is my stand on topical steroids?

i named this place antisteroid because i was screwed over badly by steroids, no words can describe the amount of hatred i had for this little miracle drug at that moment. over time, i have realized that my hate for it is unfounded and unnecessary. in fact, if i were to rename my url, it should go along the line of “mostdermsaredumbasses” or “dermatologyfail” or “dermmyass”.

1. topical steroid is not the enemy
you heard me right. our body produce our own steroids, the mere existence of it in our body naturally means that it’s not entirely a evil thing! in fact, we do need steroids to sustain our lives. it’s been given a bad name because of the misuse. just like fire, you can use it to grill awesome marshmellows, you can also use it to set someone on fire. it really depends on how you use it.

it’s okay to use topical steroids sparingly, keeping it within a safe time frame so that you don’t get addicted.

2. misuse of topical steroids is what’s causing the problem
either the dermatologist failed to convey the correct information about the dangers of topical steroid addiction, or the patient failed to heed the medical advice given and used steroids inappropriately (such as using for prolonged periods). i dare say it’s mostly the former that’s causing the lack of correct information in us. pretty sure if we know about the dangers of topical steroid addiction (and how long and painful the TSW is), we wouldn’t have used/misused topical steroids at all.

45 thoughts on “About

  1. I am so sorry for your troubles. I recently diagnosed myself with steroid atrophy after having been prescribed topical steroids for 5 years for a spider bite. I am withdrawing from steroids now and i am wondering if when you were withdrawing from topical steroids, did you get a medicinal type taste in your mouth? Or smell a medicinal smell from your pores or urine? Also, did you feel hot and cold a lot, from moment to moment, kind of like what people describe with menopause?

    • hi laurie!

      they prescribe steroids of a spider bite? seriously!?!?! i feel bad for you.

      i did not get a medicinal type taste in my mouth. if there were, i probably didn’t notice it since i was drinking water almost all the time.

      i did get a medicinal smell from my urine. i won’t call it medicinal smell though. it just didn’t smell like normal urine.

      and i definitely felt hot and cold all the time.

    • hi clint,

      i can’t say for sure. i was told that the topical steroids don’t stay in our system for longer than a week. but the damage that it has caused to my skin takes years to repair. not sure which you’re asking about?

    • hello helen,

      i guess you can supplement your skin with good hydration and moisturization to make your thin skin more resilient. The skin will repair itself over time, i don’t know if there are things we can do to speed that up!

      in the mean time, you can hydrate your skin with lotions containing ingredients that work like our natural moisturization factor (like hyaluronic acid). seal in the moisture with natural oils that mimic the lipids in our skin. eat healthy and leave the rest to your body!

      as for visible veins, i think the only options for now is laser or IPL treatments.

      hope that helps!

  2. Your blog is so helpful to me as I’m going through TSW. Yesterday was my day 90, so I’ve got a while to go. Thank you for being so open and honest, and for sharing your photos. It’s thanks to people like you that I made the decision to stop using TS and start healing. I have a lot of pain and edema in my hands and ankles right now, but I’m getting through it. You can check out my blog at http://breakingupwitheczema.wordpress.com if you want.

    You look gorgeous and happy now – so glad that your skin is glowing and healthy!

    • hello there! thanks for the heads up! and you are most welcome! it makes me really happy to know that I am
      able to influence a person to make the tough decision to stop feeding the steroid addiction.

      3 months in already? give yourself a pat on your shoulder! you did well!

      stay strong and keep believing :) there is light at the end of the tunnel!

      xoxo
      Juliana

  3. Hi, I’m beginning to understand that I have become addicted to TS. I am wanting to stop and was on day 3, off oral prednisone & any topical ointment and my skin and whole body hurt so badly I was crying and curled up. Had been awake only a few hours in these past 3 days, and I broke down and added some ts with my ointment moisturizer. I’m so bummed out. I feel like I’m too weak. It did stop some pain to where I could tolerate living, but they don’t work like they used to, not at all…I’m so scared to stop, it’s almost not practical I am completely incapable of my everyday activities when my skin is being nasty, I feel like there’s no end. I want nothing more to have my pretty skin with sometimes eczema back, I will need to stop completely. I hope I can learn more how to control the pain and cope as well as find moral support through your blog. It has become reassuring to learn there’s hope and I won’t have to live like this forever, but the reality of the recovery process brings me no comfort. thanks for listening and thanks for sharing!

    • hello bazarbra,

      i’m sorry to hear about your pains :( the initial stages of TSW will be very foreign and new, and therefore extremely painful as you have never experienced it before. once that stage has past, things will become relatively easier.

      if you are able to have your family take care of you, that’d be best because like you said, we become almost completely incapable of our everyday activities. we are reduced to infants, and definitely need care from others.

      i only stopped topical steroids because i realized i have no other way. that being said, it is a very important decision that requires some planning (in terms of care), do plan it out before stopping once an for all!

      i hope you followed your doctor’s instructions to stop oral prdnisone by stepping it down bit by bit.

      i hope you are able to find strength either from within or from my blog.

      stay strong and good luck!

  4. I wish you shared your experience as to how to fix things once the skin goes into withdrawal…or is there no cure when it gets to that point. Good information though, thanks for sharing!

    • the fix is to stop steroids and let the skin heal on its own. that was how i fixed my skin. ;) and this blog is dedicated to documenting that natural healing progress, if you didn’t notice! you’re most welcome!

  5. Hi! I really can’t tell you how much this has helped me. I’ve been in a hole for ages wondering how and if this could be cured. Its crazy how many things i had to google to finally find something like this. I had had mild eczema on my eyelids and the doctor prescribed me a steroid cream without informing me of the consequences. I stopped using the cream after a fair bit of time and by that I’m talking 3-4 years. I felt very reliant on it but my mum literally threw the cream out when my skin was noticeably thinner. Its hard waiting and waiting and watching it flaking and flaking but thanks to you, I have hope and I’m more determined than ever to keep at it. I just wanted to say thank you for making this and sharing your journey :)

  6. Hello!

    So I have been using hydrocortisone cream which did not help and after I stopped using it, i got severe eczema and went to the dermatologist. He prescribed me protopic which I used for a week and stopped after a week. It has cleared up my eczema a lot but now its coming back and spreading.
    Do you know why this is happening?
    What can/should I do? And how do I treat this??
    I am currently moisturizing twice a day and using oils on my face. I’m trying to find natural ways to remove eczema quick, so please give me advice or anything you know !

    PS. The eczema is on my face! Mainly t zone area some on the cheeks.
    Thanks xox

    • hello diana, it could be a little rebound reaction you’re having there. think of it as stretching the rubberband, once you release it i’ll snap back at you, right?

      you should try your best to take it easy. rebound reaction will dissipate with time. you can’t treat it per se since it’s not a disorder, it’s merely your body trying to return to normal after you disturbed it’s equilibrium.

      on ways to remove eczema, i can’t help you with that, since everyone may have a different reason that led to the eczema in the first place. i can only suggest you to try to address all the different causes and see what works for you – once you found that, you’ll know what causes your eczema and treat it at its root! if it’s a food allergy, then avoid certain food items!

      if you have eczema on your t zone, perhaps it could be seborrheic dermatitis, just a suggestion, but perhaps your skin is reacting to a certain bacteria that feeds on your sebum? there are seriously so many possible causes. i’m sorry but i can only suggest possible reasons. you’d need to get checked and tested to see if our guesses are right.

      in the mean time, try to stay calm. for a start, you can try using a dilute apple cider vinegar as a toner on those areas to see if it helps. 1 part vinegar to 10 part water should be mild enough. good luck!

  7. I’m so glad I’ve found your blog. I’ve had eczema all my life, but it came back quite seriously in the past two years and I’ve since then been treating it with steroid creams. I did notice the outbreaks becoming more frequent, at least one outbreak per week, but I didn’t really put it down to misuse of steroids. I’m going to withdraw completely from applying steroids, and I know it’s going to be a really hard journey and really trying on my discipline, but your blog will definitely be the main thing motivating me! Thanks!

    • aww, thank you for letting me know. the road ahead will be stormy and hard, hang on tight and keep talking to other skin friends if that helps!

      good luck and take care!

  8. You’re so beautiful! I was on topical steroids and prednisone for years.. However I stopped almost 2 years ago, and my skin hasn’t recovered. You’re so lucky.

  9. Hello :)
    I’ve had eczema since I was an infant and I am now 23 years old. Three years ago, the rash made its way to my face, and I could not get it to go away no matter what!!! Desonide worked for me when I was a kid, so I tried it. It worked very well, except for the patch of skin between my nose and upper lip. So I continued to use it in hopes that it would help. I did this for only about 4 or 5 months, and I quit last week. Only in that one spot it is so red and itchy. Right now it is peeling and flaking and driving me NUTS! I also get really bad acne, so I have to be even more careful about what I put on it. Currently I’m only using shea butter, coconut oil, and Allegra anti-itch cream for when it is unbareable. I made sure that the Allegra is safe as it is free of any type of steroids or hydrocortisone. My question is how long do you think that the recovery process will be for me? It’s such a small patch of skin, but the redness almost makes me look like I have a little red mustache :(. I’m in so much pain, and starting to feel so discouraged. I’m nearly eczema free everywhere else, though. I can handle it on my body, but on my face it is destroying my self-confidence. Please help!!

    • hello samantha,

      sadly, i can’t estimate how long you’ll take to recover. give yourself at least 6 months to see any significant improvements, since the skin heals very slowly. i also had a patch between my upper lip and my nose, it irritated the hell out of me back then when i was still on steroids.. and now that i’m off, it’s even worse. be prepared to have moments when you realize you can’t open your mouth wide to eat, or to smile.. because the skin may crack. :( but it does get better with time.

      you’re lucky that you’re eczema free everywhere else! focus your energy on the positive side! as for the face, you can consider wearing a surgical face mask if that helps with your self confidence.

      good luck!

      • Thank you very much. I know I’m very fortunate at this time, but it seems like the cycle never ends. If my eczema isn’t flared up, I have really bad bouts of acne. At one point, my skin was almost completely covered in rashes. Face, neck, body, and limbs! The looks that people give just make it worse. Mine was never as bad as yours, though, and so I think you are such a huge inspiration. If you can get through that… So much is possible! I know I’ve come so far already in clearing my body (took 10 years or so, and I’m only 23), but I’ve been fighting this battle with my face for 8 years now, and I wonder what it’s like to not have your face constantly on fire from eczema or in pain from cystic acne. It’s so annoying that I can’t treat one condition without irritating the other one. So I almost have to decide which one I can deal with.
        I read your post about turning the negatives into positives, and I’m going to try that. Sometimes it just beats you down, but I see how strong you’ve become. Some days I feel brave, and others I feel exhausted because I feel so close but so far.
        Thank you for making this blog. It really is my go-to now. You’re awesome:)

      • oh samantha, i’m sorry to hear about your long standing battle with skin issues. :( i’m not saying it’s the worse thing ever, but the very fact that our problems is on the surface is both a blessing and torture! while it’s good to be able to see something’s going wrong with us, it’s embarrassing at the same time when we have to face the world. with regards to cystic acne, i wonder what’s your diet like? i’ve heard many people who found relief after they cut out certain problem foods. of course, different people have different food intolerances, but the more popular ones are dairy, eggs, gluten, and soy.

        whenever you feel down, please remind yourself the process of building more muscles! a person will have to challenge his own muscles by lifting weights heavier than what his muslces could originally lift in order to grow it! so when life gives us shit, we might as well “lift them” with our emotional muscle to become stronger at the end of it, because, why waste resources, right?

        GOOD LUCK AND STAY STRONG!

        xoxo

        p.s. i’m glad my blog is able to offer you some mental support of some sort :D

      • Thank you for replying again! Trust me, I’ve tried everything under the sun. I’ve cut out different foods at different times and nothing has helped. I cut out dairy for a few months, same with gluten and everything else. However, I started a vitamin D3 supplement a few months ago and in the past few days, my acne has really started to clear up tremendously! It hasn’t been this clear in months. I must have had a deficiency. The reason I know it’s not a fluke is because I usually get bad hormonal acne around my “lady time”, and this month I had none! The eczema has spread, though. I know it’s just part of the healing process, and I’ve been able to keep it mostly at bay. I don’t understand why it’s on my arms and hands though… Maybe that’s just because it’s been freezing here the past few days :(
        Two days ago the oozing began, and I had forgotten how awful it was. It was impossible to even sleep! I’m surprised how quickly it is healing up, honestly. I was crawling out of my skin yesterday and I swear I was using some of your sayings to get me through it! I think that by summertime in June, I will have the fresh, glowing skin that I’ve dreamt of for years! TSW is so worth it. It really is.
        How is your latest flare? I was also going to suggest african black soap to you. It’s great for eczema even though it’s kind of drying. If you use that with Shea butter and jojoba oil afterwards, it might be helpful! I think everything is worth at least one try, you know? Happy new year, here’s to a year of better skin!!!
        Xoxo

      • don’t be discouraged! sometimes, the eczema has to spread before healing. i don’t know why, but it seems to be a course of it’s own life.

        if your rashes are on your hands and arms, chances are it’s due to something you’ve touched. people with contact dermatitis usually get it on their hands. or it could just be because you used most steroids on those parts in the past?
        :) it always makes me happy knowing i’ve helped someone through with what i’ve wrote here! thanks for letting me know :D

        don’t stop imagining the good days, it’s not far ahead. positive imagery helped me a lot during the bad times! and i’m about to start vitamin d3 supplements soon too! i’m probably very deficient because i’m indoor most of the time. :X bad habit that i need to change after i recover.

        my latest flare is finally showing some signs of calming down. sleep still sucks, but the integrity of my skin is improving. i’ll see into the african black soap! was thinking of using jojoba oil too, but i’m still doing my research! and you’re right, everything is worth a try! :D

        happy new year to you too, may your summer dream come true!

      • Juliana, I had to tell you that I got through the worst of it and am now enjoying my skin with minimal dryness. It’s not “normal” quite yet, but the woman that I work for gave me some essential oils that saved my skin. My acne is even clearing up!! I think it was caused by dry skin, oddly enough. Thanks again for this blog… It got me through a very rough time!
        Before: http://tinypic.com/r/2nsw7m0/8 (this picture doesn’t do justice to the redness)
        http://tinypic.com/r/984t43/8
        Today:
        http://tinypic.com/r/2s7b0xf/8 (excuse my makeupless face)
        http://tinypic.com/r/2dme0rb/8

        Thanks for all of your support and everything that you do!
        Xoxo

      • hey samantha! YOU’RE LOOK SO MUCH BETTER! i’m so happy for you!!! if essential oils are working great for you, please keep doing that! it’s perhaps the next best option we have for moisturizers since they’re natural oils with no additives :D i have heard of dry skin that led to acne, so it’s not really odd that the essential oils are clearing up your acne! and i’m always pleased to be able to help in some way or another :)

        xoxo

  10. Hi All, maybe some one can give me a bit of advice…ive never had exczema or a sever rash but heres my story.

    So at the age of 22 i came out in a few spots on my face nothing major but a little one here and there so my boyfriend recommended me to use betnovate (biggest mistake i have ever made). So thinking it was maybe a quick fix i started using the ointment and the results where impressive. I didnt think nothing of it at first and was actually happy using the ointment everytime i used it my face looked clear…..i was enjoying it….so as time went on i started using it more and more (i never knew it was a topical steroid nor did my boyfriend). So now four years down the line im still using it. I tried stopping it after i told a friend and they advised how bad this ointment was but as soon as i stopped my face became dry and very itchy….was sore and i became so uncomfortable with how my face felt i started using it again…so now i really am determined to stop…i havent been applying it on my face for a week now and can feel the pain coming..my face feels tight and very sore…my doctor has prescribed mouisturiser and adviced i see a dermatologist…my face feels scaly and every time i apply the mouisturiser it burns…i have two red patches just under my eye which again feel sore….so thats my story just wonderimg if any one can help

    • uh oh.. i’m sorry to hear about your situation sara. using steroids on the face is definitely very dangerous.. your dermatologist is probably gonna prescribe you with more steroids to put down the inflammation. if you are willing to go through steroids withdrawal, your skin will heal up on its own over time. the soreness and dryness won’t last too long..!

    • Hei sara my story is very similar to yours, I also started using steroid ointments, to get rid of my pimples. I have been using persivate ointment, and the worse part is I have used it since high school, not nkowing I was making the biggest mistake of my life too, I am now dertrmined to stop its been 3 days and already I look and feel awful my face is red and itchy, my mom is also going through the same thing and we have decided to team up and fight this together, I am scared everytime I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is grab a mirror and check how my face looks, :( I have even thought of re applying the ointment but stopped myself beacuse now I want out for good, my days are not easy I’m from South Africa and sun is not doing me any favours, but I will press on and beat this once and for all, thank you juliana this blog has just given me more will power….

      • i’m sorry you have to go through this.. it’s very brave of you to decide against using TS any longer. it’s probably best to stop looking into the mirror for a while.. your skin should be in the hyper sensitive phase right now, but once it passes this red and burning phase, a little sun is said to help you heal faster!

        stay strong!

  11. 你好~你長的好漂亮好像Arissa石貞善. 我女兒跟你的症狀好像她目前6歲,2歲開始有易位性皮膚炎也使用西藥4年了. 我前陣子給她停內固醇3週. 不過這過程對她好痛苦,她又紅又腫又脫削很多皮膚也抓傷破皮我很捨不得也擔心她會發炎所以昨天開始又給她擦內固醇. 我知道擦西藥很不好, 不過他年紀太小這代謝過成又太久我很難過真的不曉得要怎麼辦. 請問你能給我一些建議嗎?

    • 真的嗎~!?!?! 哈哈哈哈 謝謝你的誇獎呀, 我覺得arissa好漂亮~~~
      聽到你的女兒跟我經歷一樣的事情, 好心痛..
      我的建議就是停止類固醇藥膏的使用, 類固醇反彈雖然有點久, 但是這是必須的.
      你想想看, 如果用藥4年就會有”又紅又腫又脫削很多皮膚也抓傷破皮”,
      如果多用10年, 20年, 30年, 到時候類固醇不能再控制皮膚的時候, 她要怎麼辦?

      其實小孩子恢復的速度比大人快, 我建議先停藥, 讓身體自己調適一兩個月 (頭幾個月, 無論你用什麼治療, 只要不是類固醇, 皮膚都不會有好轉, 所以乾脆讓它自行排毒完畢再治療),
      然後找中醫開始中藥治療.
      中醫可以根治皮膚病, 我覺得比較靠譜.

      病從淺中醫, 還是趁她還小, 趕快醫好她!
      照顧好小孩子的脾胃, 接下來什麼問題都比較容易解決!

  12. Hello from the USA. I appreciate all you wrote about topical steroids. I’m sorry you had to go through such a rough time! Thank God it’s over for you. But yes, there are people out there who need your story…thank you! I’ve been on topical steroids for 3 months, not very long considering your story. My Dermie can’t seem to figure out how to get rid of the eczema I have. It’s bad!! All over my legs, arms & scalp. FINALLY my rheumatologist put me on oral Prednisone. This should work better to get this Eczama to ease up. Oh and I’m old! 56 years old & this is my first bout of Eczama! I wondered since I’m taking steroids orally should I still use the topical steroid ointment? I really don’t want to keep putting it on, I want to be done with this! The rash/blisters I have is horrible tho. Hoping the oral Prednisone treats it once & for all! Keep up your good work! You are helping others greatly!
    ~thank you, Jamie

    • hello jamie, i think you should do without the topical steroids since you’re already on the oral steroids. i hate to be a wet blanket, but oral steroids can only suppress your inflammation for that long. topical steroids damage the skin (and system, to a certain extent), while oral steroids damage the system.

      have you try to trace back and try to figure out what caused your first sign of eczema? for you to get it when you’re 56, it must have been some external factors (coupled with a weaker immune system). try to experiment with your diet and lifestyle if you wish to be free from any drugs!

      good luck!

  13. hi juliana im from indonesia.I have been using steroid cream for 7 months. I did not know myskincare cream for face containing steroids eventually I stopped and had 2 months but myfore head have many little pimples i dont know it’s pimples or no im not sure for 2months i use essential oil for myface like olive oil what must i do juli? im so depressed

    • hey rima, olive oil is not an essential oil. if it doesn’t irritate your skin, feel free to continue with it! i’m not sure if they are normal pimples, or pimples caused by steroids. whatever it is, try to alleviate the irritation either by moisturizing with a gentle moisturizer, or try other non steroidal treatments if you are desperate to get rid of them. otherwise, the best way is to let your skin heal naturally. stay strong!

      • thankyou juli, first month i stopped TWS myface only had little reaction but second month myface had breakout so badly and now myforhead full of pimpels :'( . may you help me explain the reason why myface have reaction at second months?

  14. i had rebound reactiv after stop mynight cream for face , myface so bad and many little pimples in forhead , i have been stop TWF For 2months and i use tws for 7months . im so depresed juli but i always positive thingking

    • hello rima, i’m sorry to hear about your situation! 7 months of steroid use is quite little when compared to the duration most of us used.. stay strong! you should heal fast!

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