Publication and Happy 48-month TSW Anniversary!

On October 6, 2013, Brian stopped using topical steroids for his eczema because they were no longer controlling his flares, and his skin and physical condition were getting worse. After surviving the horrific early years and weathering the subsequent storms and calms on this protracted journey, he celebrates his 4th year being free of topical steroids. And what a great way to celebrate: The JDNA has published a Systematic Review on TSW in Children.

Much thanks to the parents who wrote blogs to share their children’s stories with others, and a huge thank you to Dr. Sharon Jacob of the Dermatitis Academy who believed this information should be available to the public in order to help prevent Topical Steroid Addiction (TSA) and Withdrawal (TSW) in infants and children. CLICK to view article. The JDNA (Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association) has made it available FREE for 30 days. Thank you, JDNA!

Please share this pdf and/or link with pediatricians, dermatologists, friends, family, pharmacists, and others to help prevent TSA/Red Skin Syndrome and TSW.

Whether it be TSW, scleroderma, or other condition, documenting one’s journey via pictures, video, and/or journaling can provide a detailed record and data that cannot be captured in randomized controlled trials or 10-minute clinic visits. You can help others going through experiences similar to yours but also provide valuable qualitative information to researchers and clinicians who are looking for answers, willing to learn, and daring to think outside the (topical steroid) box.

“You made me glad by your deeds O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.” Psalm 92:4

39 months TSW and Happy New Year!

Darth Brian ready to take on the big hill! 1st snow 1/2/2017

1/8/17               Darth Brian ready to take on the big hill!   (wearing sunglasses and breathe-easy ski mask)       1st snow of 2017 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

The start of 2017 finds us in a much better place than this time last year, when Brian was recovering from eczema herpeticum and a TSW flare (see post), and in a much, much better place since he started TSW at the age of 10.

January 6, 2017 marked the 1189th day–3 years and 3 months–since we stopped using topical steroids on Brian for eczema because they had ceased to keep the eczema under control. (Read About it). Despite the long, exceedingly difficult journey and cruel rollercoaster nature of Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), it was the right choice for Brian’s skin and health.

Today, he’s a healthy, thriving 8th grader, and his skin is stronger and in better condition than it was when he was using topical steroids. NOT perfect, but better. After changing and shaking sheets daily for over 2 1/2 years, I enjoyed a 3-month break from this ritual (Aug.-Nov. 2016) when shedding was imperceptible, almost normal. Eczema scratching comes and goes but is no longer debilitating (Log 1/8/17 update). He can sleep at night and wake up for school in the morning with minimal scratching. No more hollering for an ice pack in the middle of the night, though he does ask me to scratch his back for old time’s sake. With the late Fall and Winter weather, I’ve noticed increased dryness and some mild flaking that didn’t start until mid-December. Elephant skin, ooze, and red sleeves have not reared their ugly heads, but there are a few cold months left, and these signs of residual TSW may yet resurface and disrupt our lives once again.

Of course, nothing–especially skin–is perfect, and acceptance of whatever state we’re in brings a sense of peace, but we praise God that our lives no longer revolve 100% around his skin. Right now, we are comfortably managing eczema and are thankful for how far Brian’s come. TSW has shown us we can handle and get through whatever comes our way. And so can you. We are never alone. Stay strong; have hope; keep the faith!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:2-3

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SKIN/SCRATCH MANAGEMENT at 39 months TSW (links to management for 5, 10, and 18.5 months TSW also follow)

8th grade Cross Country 10/26/2016

Warmer days……8th grade Cross Country 10/26/2016

Brian’s current Skin/Scratch regimen is similar to that posted 9/16/2016, with changes reflecting whatever his skin requires at the particular time. Goals remain the same, but interventions may change as weather and skin needs change. The following regimen works for Brian. However, people in various stages of TSW may require different treatments, and it is important to test or know what you may or may not react to. Every person is different; you need to find what works best for you.

Goals:

  • To keep the skin clean, hydrated, and infection-free
  • To utilize effective itch/scratch management to prevent breaks in the skin (to prevent infection)
  • To support the body/skin health and healing by taking needed vitamins/supplements, monitoring sugar and dairy intake, and getting proper nutrition/hydration, exercise, and sleep, and utilizing stress management and deep breathing techniques

Treatment/Skin Care Routine: At least once daily shower, followed by application of organic coconut oil (face, extremities, trunk). Hot summer months require a “lighter” moisturizer or no moisturizer at all. During winter, can use thicker aquaphor or petroleum jelly for nose, cheeks, ears, and parts exposed to cold.

Sunscreen: Organic, virgin coconut oil

Infection control measures:

  • Take apple cider vinegar (ACV) bath (10 minute soak) or 20 minutes in microsilk tub bath 1-3 times per week, followed by shower/rinse off, and moisturize with coconut oil or nothing. More frequently if flaring.
  • Spray sovereign silver, as needed, on any open areas or broken skin.
  • If these conservative measures fail, and skin/itch don’t improve, consult health care provider.
  • Change sheets daily.

Vitamins/Supplements/Diet: Vitamin D3, Omega 3 fish oil capsules, recommended by pediatrician;  pantothenic acid, DAO histaminase, B complex, culturelle probiotic–supplements prescribed by naturopath to address methylation issues (difficulty processing histamines and sensitivity to eggs, dairy, and fruit-sugar combos) and provide gut support; try to monitor dairy, egg, and processed sugar intake 

Itch/scratch management: Generally 0/5 to 2-/5 scratching. Some short episodes of   3-/5 with fatigue or stress or who knows what. (See log for scratch scale.) Cut and file fingernails short. Deep breathing/relaxation techniques, acupressure points, ice packs, distraction. He will use benadryl liquid as needed but hasn’t used it in months.

If needed for >3/5 scratching: Dr. Wang’s purple eczema ointment, The Home Apothecary’s lemongrass balm, moisturizer (e.g., coconut oil), or sovereign silver gel/spray

Remaining TSW symptoms: (compare to March 2, 2014 at five months TSW and 28 months TSW. )

  • Shedding—As in past 2 years, progressive decrease in visible, measurable shedding from end of June to Aug. This year it was June to barely perceptible in Nov. 2016. Restarted slightly measurable shedding (<1/16 teaspoon) around mid-December, from increased skin dryness. (Is this still TSW or “just” eczema? I’m leaning toward eczema))
  • Elephant skin—Not evident since this time last year January 2016
  • Red sleeves, edema—None noted in upper or lower extremities since January/February 2016 (feet) 
  • Ooze smell—None since June 2016

Skin quality:

–Back is soft, smooth but has intermittent eruptions of erythematous papules scattered on posterior scapulae and low back–haven’t pinpointed the trigger

–Shoulders, elbows, knees textured with scattered hypo-pigmentation from scratching on tan skin. Dry but no obvious flaking. Sometimes erythema with neck scratching

–Still with periodic small breaks in skin on shoulders, elbows, hands, or knees from scratching/picking; skin fluctuates from soft and smooth to pebble grain

–Able to play in the sun, heat, and snow without itchfests

Function: Sleeping through the night (roughly 10:30p-7am) and staying an active 8th grader.

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Click these links to see Brian’s treatment/regimens at 5 months10 months and 18.5 months TSW

Eczema and Skin Management at 35 months TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal)

Skin and itch management at 35 months TSW seems pretty simple compared to our treatment and skin/wound care routine at 5 months TSW seen here.

Brian’s current regimen has been as follows. This will likely change (again) as the weather gets cooler, the skin dryer, and the “eczema season” begins once more.

Goals:

  • To keep the skin clean, hydrated, and infection-free
  • To utilize effective itch/scratch management to prevent breaks in the skin
  • To support the body/skin via taking needed vitamins/supplements, monitoring sugar and dairy intake, and getting proper nutrition/hydration, exercise, and sleep
  • Utilizing stress management and deep breathing techniques

Treatment/Skincare Routine: At least once daily shower, followed by application of organic coconut oil (face, extremities, trunk). Hot summer months require a “lighter” moisturizer.

***Lately Brian’s been able to go without using coconut oil (or any) for moisturizer. He still uses it as sunscreen for face and exposed areas when playing baseball.

Infection control measures:

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) bath (10 minute soak) or 20 minutes in microsilk tub bath 3-5 times per week,  followed by shower/rinse off and coconut oil or nothing
  • Spray sovereign silver, as needed, on any open areas or broken skin.
  • If all other measures fail and skin/itch worsen, short term oral antibiotics have helped, but thankfully he hasn’t needed them much. In fact, he needed antibiotics more often when he was on topical steroids for his eczema.
  • Change sheets every day

Vitamins/Supplements/Diet: Vitamin D3, Omega 3 fish oil capsules, recommended by pediatrician;  pantothenic acid, DAO histaminase, B complex, culturelle probiotic–supplements prescribed by naturopath to address methylation issues (difficulty processing histamines and sensitivity to eggs, dairy, and fruit-sugar combos) and provide gut support; try to monitor dairy, egg, and processed sugar intake

 Itch/scratch management: Generally 0/5 to 2-/5 scratching (See log for scratch scale.) Cut and file fingernails short. Deep breathing/relaxation techniques, acupressure points, ice packs, distraction. He will use benadryl liquid as needed but hasn’t used it in months.

If needed for >3/5 scratching: Dr. Wang’s purple eczema ointment, The Home Apothecary’s lemongrass balm, moisturizer such as coconut oil, or sovereign silver gel/spray–haven’t needed these lately

Remaining TSW symptoms: (compare to March 2, 2014 at five months TSW and 28 months TSW. )

  • Shedding—As in past 2 summers, progressive decrease in visible, measurable shedding from end of June to now (beginning of September). Now shedding is almost imperceptible even when shaking sheets in morning.
  • Elephant skin—not evident in July, August, or early September
  • Red sleeves, edema—none noted this summer in upper or lower extremities compared to January/February 2016 (feet) 
  • Ooze smell—light to strong ooze smell in May and June but none too obvious from July to now. Heavy night sweating with faint ooze smell was also absent the past few months.

Skin quality:
–Back is soft, smooth but has intermittent eruptions of erythematous papules scattered on posterior scapulae and low back–haven’t pinpointed the trigger

–Shoulders, elbows, knees textured with scattered hypopigmentation from scratching on tan skin. Dry but no obvious flaking

–Still with periodic small breaks in skin on shoulders, elbows, hands, or knees from scratching/picking

–Able to play in the sun and heat and sweat like the best of us–without freaking out

See 9/6/16 pictures

Function: Sleeping through the night (roughly 10:30p-7am). Staying active with 8th grade, travel baseball with 2x/week practice,  cross country, church, golf (which he took up on 8/30/16). Overall, he’s doing well despite “not perfect” skin, but then, no body’s perfect! 🙂

We are very thankful that Brian’s skin is no longer limiting his participation in or enjoyment of activities. So, is TSW finally over? Only time will tell. Fall and winter are just around the corner, and we’ll have to wait and see what symptoms arise with the lower humidity and cooler temperatures.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to praise God for his healing touch, live beyond the itch, and “Play ball!”

You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

Psalm 92:4

2 Home Runs and 35 months TSW

It’s hard to believe that it’s already September! Summer goes by fast when you spend it traveling from one baseball tournament to another, a family reunion, and two weddings–in 4 different states. Thankfully, we’ve been able to do it all, and Brian has weathered the heat and humidity of summer like a champ.

Brian’s team, the Virginia Breeze Elite, brought home the Cal Ripkin championship trophy and came in the top 8 of 104 teams at the week-long Cooperstown tournament in NY. The stay in the barracks and uniforms washed by the staff challenged his skin, but he at least came out no worse than he went in: 0/5 to 2+/5 ss (scratch scale) and minimal shedding.

Also, he hit his first and 2nd home runs ever that week, contributing 2 to the team’s 44. He batted .611 in 6 pool play games–a fitting end to his “little field” career and a testament to how far he’s come in his TSW journey. Thank you, Jesus!

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…you should stand firm in the LORD, dear friends!” Philippians 3:13, 4:1

Virginia Breeze Elite 12u Cal Ripkin Champs

Virginia Breeze Elite 12u Cal Ripkin Champs (Brian is kneeling, 2nd from the right)

Cooperstown 2016

Cooperstown 2016

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Edisto Beach, SC

Edisto Beach, SC

 

New Teen, Baseball, and 31.5 months TSW

So proud of Brian as he finished his 7th grade year with perfect attendance and straight A’s for the 2nd year in a row (and an award for “Curiosity” hmmm). Not bad considering Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) kept him out of most of 5th grade. Perhaps all that TSW down-time strengthened his immune system!  😉

In addition, he and his Breeze brothers have warmed up this baseball season with a couple of championships and a runner-up on their road to Cooperstown.

TSW can take a hike; 8th grade can wait–Summer fun, here we come!

June 15, 2016

So long, 7th grade!  June 15, 2016

Northeast Super NIT Champions 12u   Great win in 95+ degree heat and high humidity--take that, TSW!

Northeast Super NIT Champions 12u  
Great win in 95+ degree heat and high humidity–take that, TSW!

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2016 East Coast Swing Champions

You make me glad by your deeds, oh LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.” Psalm 92:4

“Thinking Outside the Topical Steroid Box” in Boston

I’m working on my doctorate in physical therapy through Northeastern University in Boston, and, yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in their RISE 2016 Expo. I did a poster presentation on Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) in children, which summarized my 2015 research/paper “A Systematic Review of Topical Steroid Withdrawal in Children Diagnosed with Eczema.”  It was well-received and was one of the finalists for the research awards.

RISE was a great networking opportunity, and I was able to share information on TSW in children and adults, but BEST of all, I was able to meet Pam, Rob, and their son Ryan! Ryan is 30 months TSW and continues, like my son Brian and many others, on this rollercoaster healing journey.

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Pam, Ryan, Me

Make our kids’ TSW suffering count for something! Keep sharing your stories and spreading awareness about this potential adverse effect of topical steroids with your friends, family, acquaintances, doctors, and anyone who will listen. Help prevent future infants and children from having to go through the ordeal of TSW!

Continuously running slide show with healing picture progression of TSW infants and children

Continuously running slide show with healing picture progression of TSW infants and children (Collages were courtesy of Stephanie from The Home Apothecary.)

"Topical Steroid (TS) Spiral" leading to TSW

“Topical Steroid (TS) Spiral” leading to TSW in susceptible individuals

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TSW Research Group, LLC: Patient perspective in evidence-based practice is dedicated to research and education about TSW in infants and children

TSW Research Group, LLC and ITSAN brochures at RISE 2016 Expo

TSW Research Group, LLC and ITSAN brochures at RISE 2016 Expo

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Abstract # 1035 “Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) in Children” is a finalist: Top 30 of 412 presenters and 1 of just 3 chosen from the Graduate Health Sciences category.

 

A special thank you to ITSAN for sharing their brochure on Red Skin Syndrome and to Pam from Creative Pear Marketing & Design, Stephanie from The Home Apothecary, Heather, Nicole, and the TSW Research Group, LLC think tank for their collective efforts in raising awareness of TSW and providing support and encouragement for those affected by TSW.

Poster references and poster & paper acknowledgements

Poster references and poster & paper acknowledgements

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”

Isaiah 26:12

28 Months TSW

Twenty-eight months after stopping topical steroids (TS), how can you tell the difference between topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) and “just eczema”? We in the TSW community ask this all the time, as do some dermatologists and other doctors who can’t believe that TSW could last so long. I agree: How in the world could TSW possibly last this long!?!?

That’s why we’re asking dermatologists and researchers to study TSW in children and adults who are going through this lengthy withdrawal-healing process. They could gather lots of valuable information from the TSW support pages, pictures, and blogs and interview the affected adults and caregivers of children who are going through TSW. From this they could create a picture of this iatrogenic condition and formulate hypotheses on which to conduct more formal research.

I’m not complaining, mind you, or saying, “Woe is me (Brian),” because Brian pretty much has his life back, and skin care and itch management is part of our routine. I just want answers.

My questions to doctors and researchers who believe TSW is just eczema are these:

  1. Does eczema cause full-body, visible, measurable flaking and shedding of skin? TSW does. The pictures below show just the skin that shed overnight.
  2. Does eczema cause full-body erythema/flushing at one moment then return to normal-colored skin the next, then back to flushing again? It still happens now–28 months after stopping TS.
  3. Does eczema result in plasticky “elephant skin”? It happened early in TSW and it’s happening now, more than 2 years after stopping TS.

    4. Does eczema result in “red sleeves” in  arms/wrists and/or feet/ankles? TSW does.

    5. Does eczema result in heat radiating from the body at night like and TSW-ooze-smell sweating? Still going on most nights.

    So, if these signs and symptoms are not TSW and not eczema, what is causing this continued manifestation of signs/symptoms that were present in the early months after stopping TS? Is it just the long-lasting adverse effect of TS use?

    AND if doctors and eczema researchers have seen eczema that presents like signs/symptoms 1-5 above in their patients, are those patients using topical steroids? If so, then how can one definitively say that these signs/symptoms in the patients were NOT caused by TS?

    Food for thought and questions to ask your healthcare provider next time. . . .

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Life after eczema herpeticum. . .Getting through the challenges of Winter weather… Spring is right around the corner…Current regimen/treatment follows the pictures below…Don’t let TSW keep you down!  Look Beyond the Itch!

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.”                        Psalm 16:8-9

2/1/16

2/1/16  Morning

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

2/1/16

1/30/16

1/30/16  Night time

1/30/16

1/30/16

1/30/16

1/30/16 night time

1/30/16

1/30/16

Goals: To keep the skin clean, hydrated, and infection-free; itch/scratch management

Treatment: Twice a day shower/bath followed immediately by application of either coconut oil, sunflower oil, or lemongrass balm/Zinc balm combo or a combination, depending on the condition of the skin. Wet wrapping (WW) both ankles and tops of feet at night with filtered water and dry sterile dressing; WW wrist and hands as needed if they are excessively dry or have open areas.

Vitamins: B complex, 4000 iu D3, Zinc, 2 Nordic Naturals fish oil capsules

Itch/Scratching: varies between 0/5 to 2+/5 scratch scale (see Log), stress scratching; benadryl PRN, ice packs, moisturizers (sunflower oil, coconut oil, aquaphor, and/or The Home Apothecary’s lemongrass balm), itch-B-gone spray; deep breathing and relaxation techniques, CBT, acupressure points

Function: Excellent! All A’s in honors classes, playing basketball, practicing and conditioning for baseball, x-box, RC cars, able to get up and ride bus to school with friends.

Look Beyond the Itch!