26 y/o, living in los angeles. stopped all steroids on october 13, 2013. i've been a heavy user of medium to high potency steroid creams. these were applied mostly to my face, neck, chest, and arms. in addition to the creams, i have received over 15 kenalog IM injections and over 12 rounds of prednisone tablets cumulatively over the years.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
hi, my name is melanie and i live in los angeles. i have had eczema since i was a baby. in the normal places like the back of the knees, my elbows, and thighs. nothing too crazy, just “normal” eczema. i remember my parents applying a low potency steroid on it and the rashes would scab and go away. around the age of 15 is when i started to really experience full eczema flares. my parents would regularly bring me to the derma. when things got bad i was prescribed high potency steroid creams and oral prednisone. when i was younger, i was actually too lazy to apply steroid creams everywhere, so i used them sparingly. when i was 16, i received my first kenalog injection. it was absolute heaven. for the next 2 years i didn’t really have to worry about my skin anymore. i would get the occasional rash here and there but it was never like before.
at age 19, my eczema came back full force. scalp to toe. i was also diagnosed with mild psoriasis as well. i then received another kenalog injection, a full round of prednisone, and an assortment of steroid creams (clobetasol, betamethasone, and elocon, to name a few). 1 week later i was in heaven again. quickly after i moved to paris, france for a semester abroad and for 6 months my skin was absolutely flawless. however, when i came back to the states i then had the worst flare of my life. again, same thing: injection, pills, antiobiotics, and creams. i was also diagnosed with dozens of food and environmental allergies.
from 20-24, i became addicted to cortisone injections and prednisone. i would have perfect skin for up to 1-3 months. my doctor then refused to give me anymore injections so i would go to different out-of-network doctors to get them at least once a month. i also used the creams too but i was more addicted to the shots.
at 24, realized the shots weren’t working anymore. they were doing more harm than good. i decided to see another doctor and he suggested CellCept, an immunosuppresant. i was on it for a year and it seemed to make a huge difference. i finally weaned off shots and pills but was still using topical steroids everyday to keep the eczema at bay thinking that these creams were not as dangerous as the steroid injections. boy was i wrong.
last june i had stumbled upon dr. rapaport’s study on “red skin” syndrome and Topical Steroid Addiction. i decided to stop all steroid creams. within a couple days, i started to flare. mostly on my face, neck, chest, and legs. it wasn’t as bad compared to other TSW bloggers. i eventually got over that first flare but after a month of traveling and not eating very well, i started to develop another flare on my face. i was in new york, about to party with old friends that i hadn’t seen for awhile and was terribly embarassed of my skin. sad to say but i gave in. “just this one time” i told myself. a couple days later the steroid cream stopped working and my face swelled up so bad i couldn’t open my eyes. facial edema and red skin everywhere. i looked deformed. i was so sad. i started to miss work and that’s when i decided i needed another kenalog injection. “just this one last time” to keep me clear for the winter. right. 2 months, 3 kenalog injections, 2 rounds of oral prednisone, lots of steroid creams, and a week of antibiotics later i was devastated. nothing worked anymore. the shots worked for less than a week, not even.
on october 15, 2013 i decided to stop all steroids again, cold turkey. this time i am keeping my promise. it has been hard as i have a full-time job and have to deal with clients in-person all the time. i can’t look straight into anyone’s eyes. i am extremely self-conscious and feel like everyone is looking at my mutant skin. i don’t hang out with my friends anymore and usually stay at home every night. i used to be the most social person to be around, now i am plagued with severe social anxiety. words now stumble when they leave my mouth. i almost feel that i've gotten stupid. everyday is different and most days i am afraid of waking up to see how bad i’m doing. i also miss food. i am paranoid about food and feel like anything i eat will affect my skin. i eat a 99% organic diet, completely free of wheat, soy, corn, tomato, dairy, and peanuts. i also take daily supplements–50 billion probiotic bacteria, l-glutamine, biotin, evening primrose oil, and l-tyrosine.
anyways, i’ve just started on this journey and hope to meet others who are in the same boat. i feel alone.
all my love,
here's a picture of me with clear skin back in my steroid daze for comparison: