Abusing topical steroids will destroy your skin barrier
Health Hub blog

Abusing topical steroids will destroy your skin barrier

After almost 20 years of using topical steroids as her everyday skincare routine, they stopped working. Then Christine went through topical steroid withdrawal.

Topical corticosteroid withdrawal is what it sounds like — when someone stops using steroid cream, and their skin turns to sh*t. There’s two types of TSW: 

1: Red burning skin — occurs from topical steroid abuse and steroid dermatitis

2: Papulopustular — small, raised pimple and pustules – small pus-filled blister from steroid rosacea and perioral/periorificial dermatitis.

Symptoms flare from weeks to days after stopping high-potency topical corticosteroid usage and can be a beast to manage. We recently met Christine from @mysavingface who is a TSW survivor, now on the other side. Here’s her story. 

Spotlight: A free Business account is required to embed Instagram posts. Kindly connect one and try again. (This message is only visible to logged-in users.)

As I grew older, I ended up using the cream as my daily moisturiser. Yes, it makes me cringe to this day, but my parents and I didn’t know any different.

Up until three years ago, I had been using topical steroids for as long as I could remember – more than 20 years. Without knowledge of the long term damage I was causing my skin, I had a repeat prescription to use on my eczema which I had since I was about 3 years old. 

Fast forward to the start of 2019, they stopped working. I resorted to countless doctors, dermatologists, even trips to the emergency department for answers. Why was my skin reacting tenfold? Why weren’t the stronger or oral steroids working? And that was the start of my healing journey.

I’ve always been cautious about what I put in and on my body, and have had a love for health and fitness, so when I was at loss with absolutely no answers from health professionals, I knew I just had to find some alternative answer. After a friend recommended I go visit Makayla at House of Maxx, within my first 30 min consultation, I learned about the layers of the skin and how steroids break down and destroy the barriers – I thought to myself, finally someone who doesn’t just sign off a script for medication to mask underlying issues. I then learned about the impact of gut health on the skin, stress, and all sorts of external factors that were also blocking the channels of detoxification, so my body had no choice but to detoxify through my skin.

From there, I started on a three month protocol with customised and personalised skincare, food and meal plans, weekly LED sessions, and acupuncture and supplements from the ladies from the Health Press. It was the biggest challenge of my life, and this was when my skin purged and day in and day out it was rash after rash, itch after itch, ooze after ooze slowly moving all over my body. It was physically, emotionally and mentally debilitating. I had so much time off work because I couldn’t get dressed because my clothes would irritate or hurt my broken skin. Basic things like showering would hurt and I didn’t want my husband to see me cry, so I spent a lot of time standing there crying and wishing things were different and that my skin would heal.

On and off, for the next three years, my skin and wounds would start to heal, peel and the cycles of flaring and healing continued. Once I felt like I was in position to regain control of my food and training (I love training and lifting weights!)I started working with my coach Lara Viguet from Peak Performance which also completely transformed my relationship with food, my body, my training and lifestyle.

I look back today and am grateful for my body, my home. This is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and that’s why I started My Saving Face. It’s my way of showing people that it is possible to heal naturally and that feeling lost and having no answers is also very common but it’s also okay. It honestly breaks my heart when I receive messages from people that are at a loss and just want a solution but at the same time, I know I’m providing them with hope that there is a light at the end of a tunnel.

Today, I’m 3.5 years steroid-free, I’m the healthiest, strongest, and fittest I’ve ever been. I’m honestly so happy, and it’s even more incredible to see how many people and brands like Ashli and YoursOnly are educating, raising awareness, and allowing people like me to share my story. 

Christine. x