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Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis - Oh My!

Chad Riddersen

Posted on March 27 2013

Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis – Apparently, I’ve had it all since the day I was born.   I’ve struggled with dry, itchy skin, rashes, and redness my whole life, but six weeks ago, before I had my 3rd daughter, my eczema flared up like never before.  My face and most of my body were red and blistery and unbearably itchy and dry.  After I had the baby, Mark Cuban invited us to do an appearance with him on The View, so for vanity reasons, I called my dermatologist, who gave me a potent steroid cream to use for 3 days only.  My skin cleared up almost instantaneously, just in time to look eczema-free on the show.  I stopped using the steroid cream the morning of the taping, and twelve hours later, my eczema went into overdrive.  I had never seen my skin look that bad.

To make a long story, short, I'm convinced my skin is addicted to topical steroid creams.  I used them on and off throughout my life when my eczema would flare, but who knew you could become addicted to skin creams?  I am under the care of a dermatologist, who says the only remedy is to "withdraw" from the steroids.  The upside is that he says by withdrawing or stopping the use of all steroid creams, steroid injections, and oral steroids,  I will be completely cured of eczema.  The downside is that I will look like a burn victim and have intense eczema flares for at least 6 months to as long as 2 years!!!  Since one's skin is the largest organ of the body, it may take a long time to recover from this “addiction.”  Another thing that makes it difficult is that I need to stay out of the sun and keep my body cool for the time being.  This should be quite a feat considering I live in Southern California!

I have consulted many dermatologists over the years and thought long and hard about what to do about my persistent eczema, and I’ve decided that going through this God-awful withdrawal is my only option.   Right now, I look like I have 3rd degree burns all over my face and body, and it goes through a different phase daily - red, oozing, burning, extremely dry, etc.  Everyday is so unpredictable.  I go between getting chills and sweating profusely and it's uncomfortable to wear clothes, so I have not left my house except to see doctors.  Thankfully, Lollacup headquarters is in my home, so I am able to work and I have a precious newborn to love and care for, so that has been my saving grace.  It is going to be a long year, but I'm hopeful that this doctor is right and my eczema will be gone after the whole withdrawal process is said and done.

I know that this is just temporary, and I am so very thankful that I am healthy otherwise, but I feel compelled to write about my condition to alert those of you with eczema or children with eczema to be very cautious of steroid use.  I am not an expert or a physician, so I’m not saying that all steroids are bad, but I think it’s important to know that one’s skin can become addicted to topical steroids and the side effects of these creams are quite scary.

FYI, this is the non-profit organization (itsan.org) that is trying to get the word out about topical steroid addiction.  It wasn't until I stumbled upon this website that I realized what was happening to me.

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  • Breanna Morrow: July 02, 2015

    I too am trying to detach from eczema steroids, after realizing the damage to skin cells from long term use and the inability for my skin to heal even after a minor cut. Aquafor Baby Healing Ointment has been a tremendous help for me! Good Luck!!!

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Thank you Joey!

  • Lynda: July 02, 2015

    Ryan – don’t use bleach on the skin! I really don’t believe it’s safe! Try oatmeal! I think Aveeno sells packages of oatmeal for the bath. That’s what the dermatologist suggested years ago for my son who had problems. I bet even epsom salts in the bath would help.
    I too suffer but in various spots, not all over and I feel for you as I know how itchy it is! Stress apparently makes it worse.
    I’ve always tried to avoid the sun and now have even more reason to do so!
    Good Luck everyone!

  • Rachelle Flatt: July 02, 2015

    My husband suffers from psoraisis and time to time myself with eczema. The only thing that works the best on us both is vitamin E oil. We will never use the steroid creams again

  • Jina: July 02, 2015

    Wow, what a great post! All 3 of my children have eczema and I’ve tried using steroid creams for my 2nd son, which also worked wonders. His eczema got so much better at one point so stopped using it, but I’ve been contemplating on whether I should use it on my newborn daughter or not. After reading this, I’m definitely not! Never knew you could be addicted to skin treatments. Thx so much for sharing!! xo~

  • Joey: July 02, 2015

    So sorry you are in this condition and no thanks to most derms, allergists and many doctors. You will heal but it is not a cake walk so do take it one day at a time. I healed in a 22ish month time frame after using topical steroids on my hands for eczema for 40+ cumulative years. The whole world needs to know that topical steroids are potentially addictive after 5-7 days use in any one area of the body for a lifetime. Get with the facts medical community! Much love to ya friend! xxx

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Thanks Jo!

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Good Luck to you too and thanks!

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Thanks for the kind words.

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    I’ve been using coconut oil, but have not tried CJ’s butter. Thanks for the tip!

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    You’re welcome. I would try to treat it without the use of steroids if at all possible.

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Ryan, I have tried it all too. Bleach baths and every cream/medication known to mankind. From my personal experience, be very conservative with the steroid medications. I, too, only used them occasionally when my skin was really bad, but over time, I needed stronger doses more frequently, until it got to this.

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure a lot of parents will find hope in your childrens’ healing.

  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    I tried going gluten free too, but it didn’t help. I have, however, heard others say it’s done wonders for them.

  • Arielle: July 02, 2015

    I read this and just wanted to share with you my success. I don’t have eczema, but my son was born and had it pretty bad. We were given steroid creams and not knowing what you just explained, I gave it to him, but with hesitation as I do not believe in using steroids on an infant. I had no choices/options and no knowledge of anything to do with eczema. So I researched like crazy and have found only one thing that worked and worked really well!! My son doesn’t have it at all anymore!! He will get it when his skin comes into contact with detergents and it will only be in that area, but since we switched to TRUE SOAPS ( I say that because pretty much ALL products on the markets, even ones called soaps, are detergents, not soap), for everything from laundry detergent to toothpaste, shampoos etc. he doesn’t get it. We just wash him with real soap and it goes away. Here is the link that gave me all this info: http://www.solveeczema.org/ I hope it helps you and others too! I do think there are different types of eczema and some people are more sensitive to detergents than others, so may not help everyone.

  • Leslie R.: July 02, 2015

    Hi, I read your story on the Itsan.org forum. Just want you to know, it takes a lot of courage to go thru this when you have small children. I have 2 now 9 and 7 but I went through my original skin condition and withdrawl from steroids which has taken awhile having to take care of my 2 kids at the same time. good luck to you. It is the right decision to get completely off all steroids and stay off of them no matter what. and by the way, both of my children had eczema as babies. We never put them on any topical steroids, and both of them cleared up and the eczema has never come back and my son especially was bad….He also has numerous environmental allergies, asthma and several life threatening food allergies as well. All dermatologists and allergists advised us to put him on a host of medications including topical steroids which we did not.. So glad we chose not to, despite the terrible discomfort he endured including constant itching, crying, and keeping us all up all night in agony, his skin one day cleared up and he never had any further issues with his skin.. Me, I never had eczema, developed a contact type dermatits, used topical steroids and have lived through an absolute nightmare getting off of them.. so if anyone doubts whether or not topical steroids cause this, they do and I am proof of it….Good Luck…

  • Toby: July 02, 2015

    Like you I have suffered from itchy rashes my whole life and used various steroid creams and ointments that I couldn’t live without until they just stopped helping. My skin turned bright red and burning hot and I realized that my only choice was to stop using all steroid medications. It’s been almost 9 awful months, but my new friends on the ITSAN website have told me that I will heal eventually, so I am slogging through. And I hope you will too.

  • Andrea: July 02, 2015

    I always refused to use steroids on my infant for the first few months. As her eczema got worse from mild to chronic, my husband and I found a specialist in Asthma/eczema. Dr. Tottori gave her a 5 day oral steroid and ointment steroid. The best advice he gave us was to give her two 20 minute baths, twice a day, everyday! He recommended to stop using Aquafor instead we used Eurecin Original Cream twice a day. Within that same period of time, my mom gave my daughter skunk jerky to help with the eczema. I don’t really know what worked to heal her skin but for over a year, thank God she has not had another outbreak.

  • Jen: July 02, 2015

    I wish you luck on your journey! Thank you for sharing this information. My 6 1/2 year old has tried two creams since last August so I will be sure to ask more questions.

  • Elly: July 02, 2015

    Sorry to hear that. Have you seen this website. We just came across it and trying to cure our son’s eczema with diet. its working!


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