Our founder Kevin was using various topical steroids, antibiotics and oral immune suppressants for 15 years. He went on a typical treatment plan and used pharmaceutical moisturisers while paying little attention to diet, lifestyle and allergen avoidance. He underwent topical steroid withdrawal personally while limiting moisturiser use and changing his diet and lifestyle.
Although topical steroids can be effective if used sparingly and on one off or very short term occasions, we do not recommend using them long term. Their mechanism of action involves vasoconstriction, anti-inflammation, immune suppression & inhibition of cell proliferation.
This allows them to usually exhibit immediate beneficial effects when used on inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis. However, they have no effect on the underlying cause of skin problems and have multiple potential adverse effects when used long term. They are simply tools for symptom management.
Adverse Effects of Topical Steroids
Prolonged, repeated use of high-potency steroids particularly on thin epidermal regions (face, neck, hands) often leads to significant long term adverse effects. We believe these well researched effects should be made more transparent before being recommended.
Adverse effects include dermal atrophy (skin thinning), erythema (redness), pigment alteration, delayed wound healing and dependency on stronger topical steroids. It also inhibits cell proliferation and collagen synthesis in the dermis which impacts the skin's structure, mechanical strength and appearance.
As a result, the skin develops tolerance to the topical corticosteroid which leads to a loss in vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels) by the capillaries.
Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome
Many although not everyone who uses topical steroids will develop Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome (TSW). It is characterized by red, itchy, burning, crusting skin that can appear between treatments or after ceasing topical steroids. Over time, applying topical steroids results in reduced effectiveness, requiring a high potency steroid to achieve progressively less clearing. The original problem often escalates as it can spread to other areas of the body. The skin also exhibits an increased allergic response to external environmental and chemical substances.
Upon discontinuation of steroids, those with TSW often exhibit symptoms including skin redness, flaking, skin hypersensitivity, skin atrophy, hair loss, fatigue and mental health issues. It is absolutely devastating to experience and significantly effects a persons quality of life as well as their ability to work, socialise, maintain mental stability and live freely.
A Better Approach
We believe in targeting the root cause of dermatitis and balancing the body on the inside and out. We developed our skin health system which includes allergen avoidance, lifestyle changes and an immune balancing Hypoallergenic Diet, as detailed in The Problem Skin Bible. We also have compiled a list of various health promoting modalities such as meditation and sound therapy which is useful for reducing stress and calming the mind.
We specifically developed a core line of bio-compatible, physiological products which nurture the skin barrier and supplement the deficient skin lipids. Moisturiser withdrawal is often beneficial in the long term as a way to reduce the potentially contact irritation that can be caused by most commercial moisturisers. It also allows the skin to redevelop its own skin lipids.
However, we do recommend using the minimal amount of our Biomime Cream 297 to help supplement the skin as it rebalances itself. It is modelled off the skins natural surface lipids, thereby strengthening the skin barrier, reducing water loss and assisting with comfort and skin flexibility.
Our clay and salt products help soothe and detoxify the skin, our cleanser is ultra gentle and our soap berries provide an irritant free solution to washing your laundry removing a common contact irritant. If you have experienced or are undergoing TSW we would love to hear from you and support you however we can.