Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome (TSWS) ~ is the cure worse than the disease?

Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome (TSWS) ~ is the cure worse than the disease?

One of the most interesting features of our market stalls and pop-ups is meeting and speaking with our customers. It is very reassuring to find that more and more people are becoming aware of how important it is to use the right kind of product on your skin, but we also come across an increasing number who are suffering with skincare conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, and are looking for more natural solutions to their condition..

In such cases, we can only extol the virtues of the natural plant based oils and actives we use in our products, and how certain ingredients can be beneficial to specific skin conditions. We can usually offer relief and management, and our gentle formulations will soothe and repair.

We cannot offer a cure unfortunately, but we do have many personal stories from real customers, where using our products has literally changed their lives.

That is not the reason for this blog though.

As you are probably aware, eczema can be a debilitating disease, and usually begins in childhood, but can develop at any age. It is a chronic condition that can disappear and come back unexpectedly, and flare ups are usually triggered by environmental factors, allergic reaction, or stress. As it is visible on the face, it can cause stress, sensitivity and ultimately depression.

In recent weeks, we have been approached by no fewer than 3 people, mature adults, who suffered with severe eczema and were prescribed topical steroids by their GPs. This is a standard  procedure, and can have positive effects in reducing inflammation and easing the problem.

However, our understanding is that coming off the topical steroids can have even more devastating effects than the original eczema itself. Topical Steroid Withdrawal or TSWS, or Red Skin Syndrome as it is commonly known, is a little heralded side effect of this treatment. Unfortunate patients experience burning, weeping, shedding, peeling, itching, cracking, redness and swelling, not only in the infected area but throughout the body. As it develops, the TSWS causes severe pain, insomnia, hair loss, shivering, severe fatigue, and depression. Sufferers become housebound, unable to travel or work, and in permanent discomfort....a state that can last years.

Almost without exception, people who find themselves in this impossible situation turn to self-education, thoroughly researching the symptoms and possible causes and cures, which leads to a wish to only use natural, non-invasive products on their skin. Hence where we come in! We are so happy to learn that our moisturisers and hand cream have helped in relieving pain and inflammation for several afflicted customers.

We had never heard of TSW until last Autumn (and we make skincare), but it seems to be a hidden problem that has almost been swept under the carpet. It is important that we start a discussion to inform those who could easily succumb to the same life changing affliction, and share the experience of fellow sufferers.

There is a link to an interesting article in the Guardian, one sufferers story, here...

The Guardian online 3rd July 2023

The National Eczema Association also have more information here..

National Eczema Association - TSW

If you, or anyone you know, has been effected by the side effects of Topical Steroids, please share your story below, or get in contact with us. We are keen to bring this issue to the forefront and educate prescribers and patients on the downside of intensive use of steroids on your skin, and the possible consequences.

Photo credit: Balmonds - Louise charts her TSW journey on Instagram

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