2003 – My medical records show I was exposed to Protopic 0.03 and 0.10% during this time. I didn’t start using TS until 2005.
August 23, 2005 – I’ve always had tiny bumps on my arms and have always been insecure about wearing tops that revealed them. (Just for the record, the bumps were never itchy.) My GP recommended I see a dermatologist to see what they could do for me. The derm gave me a prescription to fill a BOTTLE OF Hydrocortisone 1%. The instructions were to slather the lotion onto both arms 2x/day to get rid of the bumps. I remember using this for a month and stopping because it didn’t get rid of the bumps on my arms. I was 15 at the time and didn’t know any better about steroid creams and their side effects…. I later found out in 2010 that the bumps were actually keratosis pilaris. That was my first encounter with topical steroids and I have the derm to thank for that.
2006 – I started developing extremely dry and sensitive skin during this time. I remember getting a small itchy red patch on my thigh and went to the GP for help again. He said it was eczema and gave me another prescription for a lower dose of cortisones. It disappeared soon after and I didn’t use the cream after that.
January 23, 2007 – I started having these itchy bumps appear all over my right hand, especially index and ring fingers during the winter. I went to the derm again and she classified it as pompholyx eczema. She gave me a prescription for CLOBETASOL and I used it whenever my fingers had those itchy blisters. I would say I used it for 2-4 days at a time about 7-8 times that year. *Also reintroduced to Protopic 0.1% for fingers.
2008 – Started to develop rashes all over my body. Face, inner elbows, back of legs. This is when it started to get serious. Over the course of the year I was given higher doses of steroids such as Betamethasone. I recall my GP joking that I had the entire collection!
2009 – The eczema came and went. Everytime I had a mini flare up or a rash, that would be taken care of by one of my more potent creams. Received prescriptions for Desonide and Ultravate. I continued to use the Clobetasol only on my fingers and more itchy blisters started to form. No big deal.
January – February 2010 – I had this nasty flare up… Face was swollen and red. Went to a different derm that year and he gave me Prednisone to take for 30 days.Thank goodness I DID NOT end up taking them. I remember Google-ing the side effects and reading the long list scared me from taking it. I ended up waiting it out for just under a month and it cleared up with the help of some topical steroids.
July 2010 – June 2011 – Lived in Asia. Ate whatever I want and drank a ton of alcohol every weekend and did not have a SINGLE FLAREUP during that year. Asia was also hot and humid and I really think there is a correlation between the weather and eczema.
July 2011 – Moved back to the West Coast and on the second day back, I had a flare up on my face… eyelids, upper lip, cheeks, forehead, sideburns and corners of the mouth. I never really recovered from that and started to use Class 4/5 steroids ON MY FACE. Again, the eczema came and went.
February 2012 – Had another flareup and went to an acupuncturist to get the eczema treated. I received acupuncture treatment every week. Also had to take home herbs to boil and a topical cream (!) that was made by him. I stopped going to see him in April after one treatment (12 sessions) because I didn’t see any improvements and the crook (will explain later) initially promised that I would see some results after the first 3 weeks. The cream was like a miracle cream and everytime I put it on a rash, it would clear up within 24 hours. He told me it was all natural.
June 2012 – Things got REALLY bad. My face started having red lesions pop up on my forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, upperlip and sideburns. I remembered the cream from the TCM doctor and started to use it religiously, everyday for the month of June.
July 2012 – I knew something was wrong when the cream from the TCM dude no longer cleared up the red spots. Furthermore, the potent steroids no longer worked and I started to get rashes in places I’ve never had eczema before. I called the TCM guy and asked him about my situation and out of nowhere he blurted out that his cream HAD STEROIDS IN THEM. He said HALF herbs and HALF steroids. He initially told me that it was ALL NATURAL. I knew in the back of my mind that I had been scr*wed and I FIRMLY believe this is what caused my downward spiral.
August 2012 – Things only got worse from there. I went to a different TCM and only boiled Chinese herbs to drink. It tasted nasty but it did keep the eczema from spreading and getting worse. The TCM lady went on vacation and I didn’t have any more soup to drink shortly after that.
September 13, 2012 – I would say this was the worst flare up of my life. I had NEVER experienced anything like this. My face was red, swollen and all scabbed up when I woke up. My eyes were basically swollen shut but I managed to look in the mirror and was horrified to see the dried up yellow pus all over my face. My mom took me to the ER and the doc gave me a prescription for 14 days of Prednisone (didn’t end up taking them). I was reluctant to take the oral steroids and he literally told me I didn’t have a choice.
*Funny thing – He told me I would most likely get another flare up after that dose and would have to wait 1-2 months to take another because of the side effects. So what would I do if I get another flare up during the 1-2 months? “I would give you stronger topical steroids to contain it.”
“What if I get used to the current dose of 2 weeks of prednisone?”
“I can give you a 30-day prescription.”
At that point, I knew steroids were no longer the option and I had to find a Plan B asap. Out of desperation, I found Kelly’s website on the 15th and spent the entire night reading all the articles written by Dr. R and related to all the symptoms. I knew at that point the only option left for me was to cut steroids cold turkey.
September 16, 2012 – Day 1 of Topical Steroid Withdrawal. Here we go.