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.

Win Our Signature Tranquility Experience In Celebration Of International Women’s Day

InternationalWomensDay2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Le Sands Clinic are offering three lucky people the chance to experience the Le Sands Clinic’s Signature Tranquility Experience. Tranquility Experience combines meditation, and LED light Therapy to bring a wholly relaxing and unique experience, that can also do wonders for your skin and your wellness. Each prize includes our full Tranquility Experience:

Tranquility By Le Sands Clinic

2 x Facial Cleanses
Active Cleanser
Exfoliation
Thermal Concentrate Spray
30 minute Tranquility Omnilux LED Light Therapy
Serum
SK Algae Mask
Serum / Sunscreen / moisturiser eye cream

Tranquility is normally priced at $154 each.

Competition Details

International Women’s Day celebrates the empowerment of women, toward true gender equality and equal rights globally. It celebrates the role of women in society.

To win, simply tell us, before midnight on 5th March 2021 what simple things in life make your life more beautiful for you.

Email your answer to info@lesandsclinic.com.au with your answer. Here’s a couple of suggestions – the sound of the ocean, which can be calm and tranquil, which helps set your mind free, or even the crash of a stormy sea which may embolden you against the troubles in your day.

The lucky three winners will be notified on Saturday 6th March 2021

7 Things You May Not Know About Skin and Skin Hydration

Taking care of your skin the right way is vital to naturally keeping your skin looking healthy, hydrated and smooth says our dermal therapist, Chrystal. Here she highlights 7 things you may not know about skin and skin hydration

  • Eat right with a stable and balanced diet. Constantly eating the wrong foods, not looking after yourself inside and out or using the wrong products on your skin will cause damage that can, over time, become irreversible. When it comes to the right skin care routine it’s not about picking a product off the shelf, it’s so much more! Eating right and proper hydration is an integral part of your daily skincare routine! 
  • Berry Power. Berries not only taste great, they contain antioxidants that protect your skin while helping to hydrate your body from the inside out. 
  • Don’t age prematurely. Did you know that dehydrated skin mimics the exact signs of ageing? Why look older than you have to if this can be prevented simply?
  • What skin type do you have? Skin types vary from person to person. You can have oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin. One thing that is consistent and not based on your skin type is dehydrated skin. Everyone will likely experience skin dehydration at some point. Dehydrated skin is not the same as having dry skin. Dry skin is actually caused by the lack of natural oil being produced. Dehydrated skin is caused by the lack of water in your skin. 
  • What are the signs of skin dehydration? With so many factors that cause Dehydration. It’s important to make sure you are looking for the signs that your skin is dehydrated.  Signs that your skin is dehydrated are dullness, tightness within the skin, itchiness, roughness, and flakiness, which starts the process of premature ageing 
  • What causes dehydration? Dehydration is caused by many external factors in your everyday living. The most common causes of dehydration are weather, environment, diet, caffeine consumption and lifestyle choices, all of which can result in you losing your hydration levels constantly  
  • The Power of Super Fruits. Oranges are a great source of water, fiber, antioxidants and several nutrients. The water and fiber in oranges may promote feelings of fullness, while helping to hydrate you too. This sweet treat is incredibly healthy and may provide a number of health benefits. These include vitamin C and potassium, which may boost your immune function and heart health.

Chrystal, dermal therapist at Le Sands Clinic
Chrystal Hilton is a highly knowledgeable and skilled dermal therapist at Le Sands Clinic

To find out more about your skin and your skin’s needs call Le Sands Clinic to book your complimentary skin consultation 02 9567 0399

Sensitive Skin

The skin is the largest organ in the body providing protection and communication with the outside world.

Sensitive skin is a common condition that can affect men and women of all ages and skin types. The skin may appear inflamed, irritated, dry and red. It may itch or be painful. Underlying general health conditions or skin conditions such as eczema, acne and rosacea may be associated.

Factors that can contribute to skin sensitivity include lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, stress and lack of sleep), diet (lack of fresh food, nutrients and water), genetics and environment (sun, wind and cold exposure).   Seasonal changes can affect the skin. Heat during summer can create inflammation and dehydration of the skin. Exposure to chemicals and fragrances in certain products can increase skin sensitivity.

These factors cause a breakdown in the barrier function of skin. The skin is not protected and becomes weaker making it susceptible to further damage of deeper skin layers.

A number of steps can be taken to avoid and manage sensitive skin. These include avoiding sun exposure by staying out of the sun, wearing a hat, using hypoallergenic 50+ sunscreen, maintaining hydration with adequate water, eating fresh nutritious food and getting adequate rest and relaxation.

Take time to look after this vital organ in the body. A professional skin consult and analysis will guide you to the best professional and homecare products and routines to help mange sensitive skin ensuring beautiful, vital, glowing healthy skin.

This post was written by Emily Baratti, dermal therapist at Le Sands Clinic

Who is injecting fillers into you? Why you should be very wary

Who is injecting fillers into you? Why you should be very wary

We are proud of the appearance treatments that we provide. We are also proud of our luxurious clinic facilities. Even more proud though, are the safety and back up of the medical facilities and skills available within the clinic. This is particularly important when it comes to invasive procedures, such as lip and dermal fillers, facial sculpting and PRP. Do you know who is injecting fillers into you?

Who is injecting fillers into you - be wary

We’ve all seen the headlines recently in the ABC and other news outlets. Calls for greater regulation in administering cosmetic injections, along with the need to improve facilities. The team at Le Sands Clinic are wholly supportive of tighter regulations, and we’ll detail why below. When it comes to injectables, be aware, not all practitioners or establishments are equal.

The scourge of cheap treatments

In many respects, the use of cosmetic injectables has, and rightly so, become more mainstream recently. At Le Sands Clinic, we provide a number of enhancing and sculpting procedures along with PRP treatments for our clients. Dr Saliba, is a senior consultant breast surgeon, and highly qualified injection practitioner. Think about this, we’ve been fed a diet of thinking that injections should be cheap. We strongly advise that whoever you use, do your research and that price should not be your only consideration.

An understanding of facial anatomy will differentiate who is injecting fillers into you

Facial Anatomy

With many potential pitfalls, an in depth knowledge of facial anatomy is essential in order to reduce the risk of adverse effects or outcomes, some of which could be life changing, such as blindness. One question to ask your practitioner is – how familiar are you with facial anatomy? Behind your skin are a myriad of blood vessels, muscles, bone and other structures. Your practitioner should understand and visualise these before any injection. Recently, a lady suffered enlarged lips and considerable swelling, due to the practitioner injecting filler into an blood vessel. A potential lethal mistake. I believe that:

” it is imperative that whoever is injecting you intimately understand facial anatomy. They understand and can visualise, where each of your vital organs, vessels and structures are before starting treatment. They should understand balance and symmetry in the face. The effect of treating one area on how that influences shape and symmetry of other areas of the face.”

When wanting the cheapest treatment, think about the words above. Think about the skills and qualifications you should be insisting upon – you want the best. The best is not the cheapest.

Medical Equipment

Another aspect of safety, is the level of medical equipment and skills available should something go wrong. This is rare, however, reactions can occur. The body can disagree with the substance, and let’s face it, serious, unconnected medical episodes can occur at any time. Does your establishment have defibrillation equipment on hand? Or qualified medical doctors on site at the time you are having your injections? Many businesses do not. They rely on a Skype or other system of doctor consultations. Skype is not going to help you should you run into difficulties in the clinic

Does your injectable clinic have defibrillators on site?

Also, what other equipment is available in your clinic? At Le Sands Clinic, we have a range of life monitoring equipment. Our staff are trained in CPR and First Aid. We also only ever have myself, (Dr Saliba) perform any invasive procedures. I must repeat, medical episodes are extremely rare. However, because they can happen, we feel all injectable clinics should be suitably skilled and properly equipped.

We believe anyone wanting fillers or sculpting should be very careful who they have perform these treatments. The ability to provide artistry to the process, the safety equipment on site is paramount. Also important is having a medical doctor on site, with the right equipment available should something go wrong. Having filler injections can provide so many benefits to our clients, but is not without risk. Why would you go for cheap, when you should really be going for the best and safest.

Dr Lucia Saliba Master of Surgery (Breast Cancer)

Dr Lucia Saliba is the founder and CEO of Le Sands Clinic in Brighton Le Sands, NSW. She is a senior consultant breast and general surgeon. A graduate of UNSW medical school, and Master of Surgery (Breast Cancer) bestowed on her from University of Sydney

Max’s Blog. Sid, Blossom and Bessie. My Tattoo Regret

Sheepish MaxOne night, I went out with the boys including Sid the Sausage dog. Now he’s a bad boy! My mum, even told me to stay away from him as he is a bad influence on me. Well, back to the night out with the boys, it was ONE of those nights. I’m sure that Sid spiked my chicken! Well, the effect of spiked chicken on a cute little white fluff ball like me can be enormous. That night, it didn’t fail to live up to expectations and we ended up, as boys do, at the local tattoo parlour. The night was only going to go one way from here, and that’s badly.

The repercussions

In the morning, my mum, Dr Saliba was not happy. I was grounded big time. I mean when you’re only 10 centimetres from the ground under normal circumstances, and all of a sudden, I am totally grounded, well, that’s a massive problem for me. How was I to guard my nan’s house? Ah, I forgot that my time as Chief Security Officer also was not that successful (long story) (read my bio),  but you get the gist of things. You just can’t keep a lovable superstar like me down for THAT long!.

The Regret

Back to the story of my big night out and that tattoo. I am also regretting that night because I don’t know who “Blossom” is and Blossom’s name was now adorned on my cute pink belly. This was also very bad too as I have my eye not on Blossom, but rather on a socially upward mobile little poodle, “Bessie!” . Ah…. Bessie! She’s a pooch’s dream. Now she’s a classy lady. I’ve heard some say that Bessie is so classy, she has to bathe in goats milk every day, has her nails polished by the house cat, bomber, and only eats prime beef, with a French dressing on. Makes my chicken desires somewhat downmarket! Back to the story! How could I let her see me with Blossom emblazoned on me?

Overcoming Tattoo Regret

If, like me, you have tattoo regret and want to remove “Blossom” before Bessie finds out, you need to see my mum. Her Le Sands Clinic, (btw, have I mentioned my aversion to medical establishments and vets especially, as they stick things where I don’t want things to be stuck!). Well, it has state of the art tattoo removal technologies that can help me remove Blossom in double quick time. Being Chief Happiness Officer, I do get a staff discount, but even mere humans can take advantage of Dr Saliba’s brilliant technology and at very special prices, and remove that ink that you are now regretful over. And before Bessie finds out!

Your Next Phase: Oozing Confidence, and Impressing Your New Boss And Clients

There is an old saying, that when you start a new job, or return to work after raising a family, that you should “dress to impress”. Indeed, the way you dress says so much about you. It can convey your meaning, your style, or how approachable you are. It can convey the way you want to be treated in the workplace. This article from Forbes explains this well.

Your next phase

But being your best, feeling your best, and feeling confident has more to it than meets the eye. It can be the clothes you wear, or style you portray. Returning to work is a prime example of this. Radiating confidence is the key to creating an impression. An impression with your new work colleagues, your bosses, clients or other key people. How many times have you been in a professional setting, maybe a product launch, or a networking meeting, and someone walks into a room that just oozes confidence, radiates an aura, and people are drawn to them naturally. Your personal brand is so important in this day and age. What is your personal brand? Do you ooze that confidence when walking into a meeting, networking event, or meeting clients?

Your next phase is about to start. How successful will your next phase be? That’ll be down to you, your skills, and your personal capabilities. Think about this: someone’s impression of you takes only around 4 seconds to be made up. Think about that, 4 seconds, or the time it takes to read this sentence, could either make or break you. No pressure there then! Now also think about this, the times when you are most confident, what is it that helps create this confidence?

Your personal brand

When starting your next phase, we believe that your best phase is about your personal brand, the style you convey, and how great you look, inside and out, male or female. Whilst we can’t help style you, we will help with your inner you. when your skin is glowing and radiant, your facial lines tight, and purposeful, your breakouts under control, and any skin damage repaired, then you will be oozing confidence.

We believe that inner confidence can be enhanced through how you look, how you feel, and how ready to meet the world you are.

Looking Great, Feeling Great

Your next phase is about not only looking great, but also feeling great. Inner greatness will be achieved through the treatment of external and cosmetic conditions. Conditions such as sun damage, excess hair, or ill advised tattoos. Over the next few weeks, we’re creating a series of articles about some of the people we’ve helped, their inspiring stories, and the successes they’ve had as part of their journey to their next phase. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do and are inspired to be reach your best phase.

When contemplating your next phase, a phase involving returning to work, or moving up the corporate ladder remember this. Personal success is not only desirable, but a must have. That personal success will be as a result of a number of factors, confidence and appearance being just two of them, but highly important ones.

Dr Lucia Saliba Master of Surgery (Breast cancer)

Dr Lucia Saliba Bsc(Med), MBBS FRACS is the founder of Le Sands Clinic, and renowned breast cancer and reconstruction surgeon with deep belief in people achieving their next phase in life, whatever that may be. Physical health blended with aesthetics contributes to an holistic passion for people achieving their next phase.