I just spent 20 minutes looking through pictures of Topical Steroid Withdrawal today. I saw pictures of its effects on babies through grandmas. Whew. Heavy. My heart broke. But also, my heart swelled with an appreciation for the dr who discovered my allergic contact dermatitis. I could easily be one of the TSW patients suffering through a horrific withdrawal. I had been prescribed topical steroids so often over the last 20+ years throughout my allergic contact dermatitis journey.
My dermatitis struggles began with terrible eyelid dermatitis. Dermatologist, after dermatologist, told me to stop wearing eye makeup and use this prescription steroid cream. Easy fix.
Topical Steroid Use
I want to send you a word of encouragement for your Allergic Contact Dermatitis journey. If you’ve been given a topical steroid cream and a wink of how you’ll be just fine. Stop. Right. There.
Find a dermatologist specializing in allergic contact dermatitis at www.contactderm.org and request nothing less than a NAC80 Patch Test containing a minimum of 80 patches. You can read more about my journey with my diagnosis here and more info about Allergic Contact Dermatitis. I also wrote a detailed post about patch testing that I encourage you to read.
Topical Steroid Withdrawal
Topical Steroid Withdrawal, described by DermNet NZ is a severe reaction to a topical steroid after its use has been discontinued. This reaction can occur after moderate to frequent use of topical corticosteroids. Patients who have this will most generally have red-burning skin patches and even rashes. They’re extremely painful. The duration of withdrawal can be anywhere from days to months and sometimes even years before the skin will return to its original condition. My heart breaks for those dealing with topical steroid withdrawal. The intense itching. Sigh. BLESS.
My Allergic Contact Dermatitis Journey
Several years ago, I had decided my Fragrance and Balsam of Peru allergy were doing pretty good. I began using a new hair product line, and although my understanding of my allergens was nowhere close to where they are now, I still knew this line contained some of my fragrance allergens. After using them for about a year, this itching on my entire body was insane. I had red welts on my face and neck and an itch I could not go away. I began using topical steroids to help. Only they didn’t help because I continued to encounter my allergens daily. This process went on for months. I felt so desperate.
I went back to my patch test dermatologist to tell him I must have new allergens because this itch was intense and that steroid creams were not helping. He calmly explained to me that this was a deep itch that a steroid cream could not reach. When the T-cells within our body engage in a fight (which is what Allergic Contact Dermatitis is), it’s near impossible to quiet them. An oral steroid can, at times, and avoidance of the allergen works, but topicals really have little chance. But oh, the damage they can do.
Types of ACD Reactions
When I encounter my allergens, I experience several types of reactions. Adult acne is a big one. When I’m clear of my allergens, my face is clear and clean. If you struggle with adult acne, it could very well be the botanicals, fragrance and essential oils in your skincare, makeup and sunscreen. These chemical constituents can cause sensitization and shouldn’t be used, but also can be a huge cause of adult acne.
I see many popular makeup lines use botanicals, essential oils – even beeswax. All can be problematic. Mineral makeup is the cleanest for those with sensitive, reactive skin. But, a word of caution. The number one cause of sensitization to an ingredient leading to Allergic Contact Dermatitis is repetitive use. This means if you’re using sensitizing makeup/skincare, you could be the next one diagnosed with this lifelong condition. I see so many beauty bloggers who repetitively use products falling to the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis, wondering how they got there. Use caution. I have so many wonderful product suggestions on this blog that should not cause you trouble. I’ve linked many of them to my Amazon Storefront and my Shop Pages.
I’m here to encourage you.
I want to encourage you. Please keep moving along your journey. I know so many are struggling. The emails and direct messages I receive every day are plentiful asking for help and guidance. It’s hard to keep up! I so want you to heal and find skin health!
I’m in your corner always rooting for you!