What do I mean by that?
When the next several months are meant to be rocky, you need to create some sort of certainty within yourself and your surrounding environment.
When going through topical steroid withdrawal myself, I knew the next 6 to 12 months was going to be brutal. The symptom length would vary person to person. The symptoms itself are extremely uncomfortable and debilitating, mentally and physically.
I didn’t know how long these symptoms would last and if it would get worse or not.
Sometimes, I would have good days and bad days. But I could never predict them.
Some days, my skin would look horrible but internally I felt okay.
Some days, I felt like absolute shit, but my skin looked okay.
I then realized, because I couldn’t predict the day to day over the course of the next few months, I had to create some sort of certainty to get through this next uphill battle.
What did I do?
Both my feet were the most problematic areas. It was swollen, infected and oozing. Even on the soles of my feet. Walking was uncomfortable and I was pretty much limping for a year.
No matter how my feet was progressing, everyday I soaked my feet in apple cider vinegar and warm water.
Good days and bad days.
I then applied some zinc based creams.
Every day after work, I would sit by the bathtub soaking my feet for about 15-20 minutes.
After the soak, I actually felt a little better about my situation and my hope towards healing.
This routine soon became the certainty I needed.
I could rely on this routine I created, no matter the good or bad days, that I would certainly feel at least 1% better than I was before.
What did I do while soaking my feet in the bathtub? I played Clash Royale, watched an episode of a tv show, read a book or read some articles.
I did things that gave me joy while I took care of myself on the sidelines.
Find comfort in the chaos
This can be tricky and it still is for me.
TSW is chaotic. Mixed of severe symptoms coupled with frustration, anger and hopelessness.
But I soon realized, no matter how much I wanted relief, it never came right away.
Antihistamines took 30 mins to kick in and some days it didn’t work. I relied on it to stop the intense bone deep itches and for sleep.
The natural creams I tried didn’t give me relief right away either.
I had to grind out the uncomfortable every single day.
No matter how tired I was, I would always wake up at 2am/3am for an intense itch session.
If I scratched one spot, I would itch everywhere. It may even ooze and get infected.
After showering, was another intense itch session to be dealt with.
What did I do?
Rather than trying to sleep and itch my way through sleep, I either just got out of bed around that time and kept myself busy with TV shows, movies and video games. I found comfort in all nighters.
When I did go to sleep, I always slept in the same position that I could depending on my skin. I found comfort in this sleep position.
My post showers consisted of blasting a fan in my direction, netflix and or Clash Royale (fun game that you need to focus which forced me to forget about my itching) or even video games.
Because I couldn’t control these symptoms and predict them, the only things I could control were things that could give me comfort. It gave me certainty.
Create a process
I created a process for myself as I slowly started to get better and went back to work part-time.
I couldn’t wait for TSW to heal on its own. How long would I wait?
I was itching (pun intended!) to get back to my normal life and feel good again. I couldn’t wait on the sidelines any longer.
What did I do?
I started researching about what supplements would be beneficial for my skin and body to heal.
I then incorporated eczema related routines that
I took Vitamin C and D with breakfast.
Probiotics at lunch.
Omega 3 plant based oil at lunch.
Dead sea salt bath few times a week (now I’ve reduced it to once a week).
Soaking my feet in apple cider vinger and warm water for about 3 months until my feet was no longer oozing and swollen. I did this almost every day after work.
Make your calendar
Remembering to do all this on top of everyday life can be challenging.
You can tend to forget to do these things, or at least I did, because eczema related thoughts were always running around in my head.
I knew I had to stick to these habits in order to help my body heal. It’s easy to brush these off when you aren’t feeling your best. Which is almost everyday when you are dealing with TSW or severe eczema.
You go easy on yourself for not feeling too well and you push it off until tomorrow.
Some things shouldn’t be pushed off, like taking care of yourself. It’s even harder when you can’t see instant progress when you are performing healthy habits.
You need to build momentum before it snowballs.
What did I do?
To remind myself of the hand few supplements I needed to take, I scheduled them into my calendar.
I then set up timely reminders to get notified on my phone it’s time to get my supplements.
I also used a habit tracking app to keep myself motivated. The app also provides you feedback visually.
So once I saw that graph go up and up, I didn’t want to break my progress.
I also strategically placed my supplements in direct line of sight so I wouldn’t forget.
I also turned my dead sea salt bath sessions into a comfortable one.
There were days where my skin would sting in the bath but then I started reading books in there, watching a show, listening to a podcast, anything to make the bath somewhat pleasant.
Once I got the hang of my new process, no matter the good or bad days, I did it.
It was especially motivating to take my supplements and do my healthy habits on the bad days.
Why? Because I knew this very process would minimize the bad skin days down the road.
I just had to be patient and get comfortable in the chaos by creating certainty around my daily activities.
Everything Eczema was created by Kishok (Certified Nutritional Practitioner, 2023) to help the millions of people around the world who are suffering from atopic dermatitis (eczema) and topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). Our goal is to educate and empower you on how to manage your eczema so you can live your greatest life!Learn more