My Personal Topical Steroid Withdrawal Journey Diary

Topical Steroid Addiction Recovery Diary

How my treatment was planned, the results it has achieved and how it has affected me and my confidence

Author: Andrew – Company Director

A short diary of my personal journey to eradicating the demons of eczema and steroid cream usage over many years. This little diary has been written in order to document my journey as I remove something that I know now, has been damaging me, almost since birth. I am 56 years old now and have suffered with eczema since birth. Over the years, this has reduced significantly, however, my face and upper body is always prone to flare ups, especially after shaving. I have since found, this is almost certainly linked to my use of steroid cream throughout my life. Looking at some of the research into this, called Topical Steroid Addiction, it is apparent, that the journey to removing this harmful cream from my body, may not be an easy one, but one which must be done. Here is my first two weeks on this journey.

Thursday 29th April

Today was the last time I used the steroid cream I had used since I was a very young lad. I remember being smeared in it to within an inch of my life everytime I had a bath. Going to bed all slippery from it in my PJs. In the intervening years, as my eczema got better, I only really needed to ease my skin on my face, and after shaving. It was something I did that provided almost instant relief from the ravages of shaving. Shaving, just dried out my face, and skin care was not something I’d even considered as a man, not even moisturiser. I had, over the years got a hint of what damage the steroid cream was doing to me. If I had run out of the ointment, within 2 days, my face would go red, become very angry, and then more recently, the bags under my eyes would appear, and then swell. But, never fear, steroid cream would come to my rescue, and within a day or so, all would be good with the world again.

I knew nothing of topical steroid addiction. I just put the angriness and swelling down to not getting the treatment I thought I needed. A while back, I was advised that using steroid creams on my skin would have serious, and very bad outcomes for my skin, and that I needed to stop using it altogether. I remember the anguish I go through every time I miss a “dose”, and this filled my head with dread. Come on, what damage could it do I asked myself on more than one occasion. I had obviously dismissed the fine veins that had been with me since a very young age, and that as I got older, looked like I was an alcoholic. I had also dismissed the times, when I had banged my head or face on a not fully open car boot, or cupboard door, and my skin would peel open, like a tearing a bit of paper up. No, this was just me, and how I was? Thursday 29th April, was the day I was determined to start the journey to weaning myself off of steroid treatments. I was scared, worried about what would happen, and worried about what was next.

Friday 30th April

I consulted Chrystal at Le Sands Clinic and did another skin analysis. My skin was way out of balance, and was seriously dehydrated. I was recommended that I undertake LED light treatment, plus a morning and evening regime of Skeyndor AquaTherm, a treatment designed to take heat out of the skin, cool, and moisturise. It sounded fantastic. I was worried that dehydrated skin was result, and that this option would help overcome this. I felt great afterwards, and determined to see this through, and finally wean myself off of the nasty treatments I had used for the past 50 odd years. The other benefit was how relaxing the LED treatment and facial actually was.. wow!

Saturday 1st May

No reaction as yet.. woo hoo! My skin felt great. It was smooth, very relaxed, and not at all as I had feared. My morning and evening treatments are actually being kept up, and I am remembering to do them… that’s a major bonus!

Sunday 2nd May

Still feeling good. Maybe, just maybe, I may have dodged a bullet with coming off of the steroid cream. Am taking anti histamines too just in case. Morning and evening routines are progressing well

Monday 3rd May

It is now 4 days since I last used that nasty stuff. Am feeling pretty OK, although am having a few hot flushes but nothing really to worry about. I may just have beaten this!

Wednesday 5th May

Oh crap. I’ve woken up and my forehead and eyes are really, really dry, and a bit stingy. I hope this isn’t a reaction. As the day goes on, I feel my eyes start to swell up and those bloody bags are getting big again. Surely, after 5 days, I shouldn’t get a reaction like this. The day progresses, and I feel very hot, and my skin is really angry. I feel my eyes close up a little from the swelling. This is not good. Head back to Le Sands Clinic, and undergo another LED light session, plus hydration to try to ease things. That really helps, but I head home with very red head, and looking like I’ve been hit in both eyes. Not what I’d envisaged. There must be more to this than meets the eye. Surely, I can’t be the only one in the world to suffer like this when withdrawing my steroid cream? Can I?

Thursday 6th May

Woke up. Eyes swollen even more. Face very angry and red. I look like a red version of Shrek. My face is not itchy though which is really weird. Just hot, just angry, just swollen. I get to the office, then things ramp up a notch or 100. If I thought I looked like a red Shrek this morning, I look 10 times worse this afternoon. More LED treatments, more facial products. I feel like a freak. I cannot look anyone in the eye. The hit to my confidence is enormous. I feel so self conscious, and this is made worse when having to go to Coles. Everyone is staring at me. They are probably repulsed. They probably think they will catch whatever I have. They are probably glad they are not me. I put my head down as I walk through the aisles, not making eye contact with anyone for fear of scaring them. This is the low point so far. I need to get back on my steroid cream, surely, that will take this away and bring back the old me. The confident me. The perfectly imperfect me. The amiable and friendly me, not the grumpy person who has had every bit of confidence oozing out by the second. This even affects my work. I re read emails I have sent, and they are devoid of personality, devoid of warmth, devoid of humour. How the hell can a Shrek face affect the way you write..? I end the day, really down, really grumpy. We research what the hell this can be. Ah ha.. there is a known condition that affects people in exactly the same way as me. It is called Topical Steroid Withdrawal. Steroid creams, we read, can do enormous damage to the skin, and in effect, suppress the skin’s immune system. Prolonged usage of it, will mean, on withdrawal of the cream, the skin has no protections to it. The skin’s balance of oils is shot to pieces, and often, hydration is also reduced as the skin’s oils run amok. The only really long term treatment is withdrawal. This can take any between a few weeks, and months and months. Not what I wanted to hear. The recommended treatments are exactly as we had been doing, and the wonderful team at Le Sands Clinic had advised.

Friday 7th May

Woke up, my eyes hardly opening through the swelling. That set me off again on a downward spiral. Routines were done, and that seemed to provide a little relief. The redness has gone down my face now. My eyes look as if they had been hit by a hammer. Who knows where this will end up.

Saturday 8th May

No improvement, and now my angry skin is getting angrier lower down on my next. This is still really affecting my confidence, and I find it difficult to look anyone in the eye. I am not sure how much I can stand of this, or for how much longer. I am tempted to go back to my steroid cream, to give me some relief, but no, it is that which has done this damage all of these years. It would be like an alcoholic having just one drink to ease the pain. No, I must remain strong, despite this obviously affecting me, my work, my social relationships. Another Omnilux LED Light therapy session, and this brings a little immediate relief. Today I also started a course of oral cortisone steroids, the research into this condition indicates that a short, and reducing course of steroids are not likely to keep my skin hooked on them. So long as the course is short, and reduces after a week. Dr Saliba prescribes the course, and I start on them. Keeping fingers crossed.

Sunday 9th May

Day 2 of the additional steroids and no real improvement as yet. In fact, my neck is getting worse. The angriness in my skin is spreading lower down my neck. When will this end?

Monday 10th May

Oh my word, my face feels a little less tight, and definitely not as angry this morning. I am religiously keeping up with my home care skin routine; morning and night. I am even managing to shave now. My neck is in a bad way, but, as the days pass, I am confident this will ease now. The downside to today, is that my skin is getting really flaky. Gross! I have read and been told that this is really a good sign, and a sign that my skin is starting to recover. This will not be a pleasant phase of my recovery.

Tuesday 11th May

Wow, my face has cleared. The Puffiness in my eyes has gone, but they are incredibly dry and look like an elephant’s eyes. They look bloody awful. I double and treble down on my Skeyndor Aqua Therm moisturising cream. In fact, I moisturise every hour or so. It is weird, every time I do this, within 10 minutes, the skin around my eyes and upper cheeks just sucks the cream in and my skin feels like glass paper again. It is relentless, but shows how much damage has been done over the years. Keep going…

Wednesday 12th May

Really great improvement today, and my neck is starting to ease. I almost look normal and not like a red Shrek any more. I can feel my inner confidence coming back. The dryness in my skin is not quite so bad now, and I no longer have to use my Aqua Therm every hour! I drive back to Le Sands Clinic and have another Omnilux LED light therapy. This, apparently, helps to repair the deepest layers of my skin, and will be critical in me helping completely remove steroid cream from my life. The idea is that once my skin’s natural barriers are built up, I will retain hydration better, and also be able to withstand times of dryness.

Thursday 13th May

Woo Hoo – I am now almost completely rash free on my face and my neck. One massive thing I’ve noticed too, is my wrinkles around my eyes are now barely noticeable. That is one thing I didn’t expect to find. In fact, my skin looks fuller, and healthier. My big worry, is that this is only down to the oral steroids I am still on. The critical time, will be tomorrow when I start halving my dose for a few days, then halve again so that I am free of them by next week. This will be a real test I fear. On the plus side, there are some very visible signs that my skin is healthier, and who knows, maybe better placed to withstand real life. So far so good.

Friday 14th May

I will complete my journey now on my own, and continue with the treatment plan that Chrystal and Dr Saliba has given me. I also up my treatment today, with LED light Therapy, a deep moisturising facial, and even getting rid of any dead skin I have shed as part of this with an exfoliation. My confidence levels are back to normal, and I feel human again. These past 2 weeks have been difficult. I won’t candy coat this, really difficult, however, I can feel a completely new future coming on, and one where I am not dependent upon steroid cream. Thank you for listening to my current journey, This is the start My Next Phase, a phase in which I do not suffer issues with being able to look people in the eye, can stand proud and tall, and not have to bloody well scratch my face, or look like red Shrek again.

Out of my comfort zone and skin shamed! (not really)

Out of my comfort zone and skin shamed! (not really)

As an entrepreneur and tech startup founder, I often hear people say, that you have to go out of your comfort zone in order to grow as an individual. The other thing I’d like to preface this blog with, is that as a tech founder, I love technology and Gadgets! I am a gadget geek. My role involves meeting prospective clients, as well as potential investors and other interested institutions. There is also an old saying, that you have just a few seconds from when you first meet someone, for them to form an opinion of you. In today’s incredibly busy world, never has that been so true in my experience.

Now, here’s the thing – I was born in a part of London where appearance was never really a big thing for men at the time. It never needed to be! It was a dog eat dog world in many respects. The concept of looking after my appearance and especially skin, at the age of cough, cough 50 odd cough is totally alien to me. Hey, my idea of skin care involves ensuring that I put a band aid on a graze only if I am losing 2 litres of blood and only then does it go on!

Like A kid at Christmas

So, with my role, and with my need to always look the best I can (says someone with a face for radio!), I decided to have my skin professionally assessed and treatment options specific to me recommended. I mentioned earlier that I am a gadget geek. Well, I was like a kid in a toy store when Chrystal, the therapist at Le Sands Clinic, walked me into her consult room and introduced the digital skin analysis machine!

I was not really sure what to expect when walking in, but Chrystal explained the process to me beautifully. The digital skin analysis assesses multiple areas of my skin health, through a series of very easy and painless! Tests. The analyser can see below the surface of my skin, giving her a really good assessment of moisture content, how deep my wrinkles are, blocked pores and the like.

Digital skin analysis output from a male client at Le Sands Clinic

The results – ha!

The analysis took about 45 minutes in total and was a real eye opener. Based upon the results, I was skin shamed! Well, not really, and in fact, Chrystal uncovered a deep and long standing issue with my skin, that I had really known about for many years. The 7 areas for investigation were then tested and then results discussed with me and the implications of the results. The great news, and I am going to brag about this now, my wrinkle depth, was very low! Ha! Revenge from this 54 year old at last! My skin hydration was also pretty good considering I drive a lot – did you know that if you drive a lot, then often, one side of your face will be less hydrated than the other if you are heading north in the morning and south of an evening… hadn’t even thought of that.

A bit of a revelation

Back to the serious side of the blog for a moment, the results that Chrystal obtained, plus the questioning of my life style for instance, led her to make a really clever discovery about my skin and therefore how it should be treated. Chrystal epitomises the diagnostic type approach that Dr Saliba advocates and carries this out very professionally. In fact, her explanations of not only the process and use of the analysis, but also the reasons why we were witnessing some of the results were enlightening, especially to a geek like me that likes to know everything that’s going on.

At the end of the analysis, I now have a pretty solid treatment plan for my skin specifically and a well defined path to where I need to be as I continue on my founder journey.

Andrew Paton-Smith

Andrew is a founder and CEO of a Sydney based innovative tech startup https://jazoodle.com

6 Things You May Not Know About Skin Needling

Dermapen 4 at Le Sands Clinic

6 Things You Should Know About Skin Needling

Here’s 6 things that you should know about skin needling and Dermapen but may have been too afraid to ask! We’ve launched the Dermapen 4 in clinic

1. What is skin needling?

Skin Needling is a non invasive clinical treatment, that uses micro needles to penetrate between the very top layer of the skin and the deepest layers underneath. This treatment is also known as CIT / Collagen Induction Therapy.

Dermapen 4 at Le Sands Clinic

2. What is Dermapen 4?

Dermapen 4 is currently the leading skin needling device . It is TGA approved and made and developed in Australia. The device is surgical grade stainless steel that utilises 16 fine needles. The design of the Dermapen 4 means less trauma to the skin when compared to other needling devices, giving a more effective, efficient and safer treatment for all skin types.

3. What conditions are best treated by Dermapen 4?

The Dermapen is best used in treating facial wrinklesminor scars, stretch marks, acne scars and other facial lines.

The Dermapen is best used in treating:

4. How many treatments are required?

The number of treatments needed will depend upon your individual skin needs. For best results, we give all of our clients a free digital skin analysis as part of our initial consultation

5. Is there any downtime with Dermapen and skin needling?

There is no downtime with Dermapen 4. You may experience swelling or redness for 1-2 hours after the treatment but this should quickly subside.

6. How will I know if skin needling with Dermapen is right for me?

At Le Sands Clinic, we pride ourselves on first understanding your particular concerns or treatment needs. We would not recommend Dermapen 4 treatment without first seeing you. Call us on 02 9567 0399 to book your individual consultation

What’s REALLY going on with your skin?

What’s REALLY going on with your skin?

Have you ever wondered how healthy your skin is? I’m sure that you know to moisturise, drink plenty of water, avoid smoking and direct sunlight. Furthermore, do you really know what is really going on with your skin? How healthy is your skin, deep down under the surface?

What is happening under the surface? We’ve recently invested in the Skeyndor digital skin diagnosis system. This device is a highly advanced system for detecting underlying skin conditions. Every client receives a free digital analysis and these are used by Le Sands Clinic to build your personal treatment plan . Why is this important for your skin health and management plan?

Le Sands Clinic uses the My Skin Diagnosis system on each of our clients as a complimentary service

Why a digital skin diagnosis?

Our senior dermal therapists believe that having a full picture of skin health is critical to understanding the best course of treatment for each person. Our digital analysis assesses:

Skin type and oil content of skin – this is important in that the naked eye can only see so much! the digital analysis lets us get under the skin to assess the amount of oil, extent of dead skin cells and the like

Hydration and moisture content – how well moisiturised your skin is deep within your skin

Health of pores and visibility – how dilated your pores are

Bad bacteria under the skin

Pigmentation / Uneven Skin Tone – Pigmentation comes in different forms and caused by a number of factors. Our therapists can determine what types and causes and our machine confirming how deep it is under the skin.

Keratin – we look to understand the build up of dead skin cells

Wrinkles – we need to understand how deep these are and the extent of them

7 Skin Parameters

Snapshots of your skin health

The analysis, when taken over time will also mean that you will be able to see the changes in your skin over time during your treatment journey. We use this to understand your exact skin type and treatment options. What’s more, we have a digital record of your skin as it is now as well as how it responds to treatments and products over time, so that we can modify treatment plans if need be

We believe the skills and knowledge of our therapists, along with the confirmation from our digital skin analysis is so important in the correct diagnosis and treatment of individual skin as part of a consistent skin care treatment plan, that Le Sands Clinic has started doing this for every one of our clients as either part of our initial consultation, or prior to other treatment appointments being done when client’s visit us. There is no charge for our digital skin analysis system

For more information talk with Emily, or Chrystal or arrive a few minutes early for your next appointment and we’ll arrange this for you