Topical steroid withdrawal (TSW), also known as red skin syndrome, has been reported in long-term users of topical steroids after they stop the use. Symptoms include redness of the skin, a burning sensation, and itchiness, followed by skin peeling. It generally requires the application of a topical steroid at least daily for more than a year. People with eczema are most at risk. Treatment involves discontinuing the use of topical steroids.

International Topical Steroid Addiction Network

On February 20, 2019, I decided to stop the use of topical steroid and antihistamine to heal eczema naturally. I started experiencing red skin syndrome thinking it was my eczema getting worse. After posting about my condition online in March, people from the TSW community with similar symptoms reached out to me and I finally knew the reason behind all the redness, burning sensation and itchiness that I was experiencing. It wasn’t eczema, it was topical steroid withdrawal – a condition not widely addressed by dermatologists.

After I finished my degree, I went to Hong Kong to stay with my family and seek medical help on May 5. I didn’t tell anyone I was in HK because I was in such a dark place – both physically and emotionally. I cried myself to sleep every night because I couldn’t stand the pain and itchiness. I was self-conscious on the street because it was too hot to wear long-sleeve to cover up the rashes. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) I was taking at the beginning didn’t help at all. I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel and it seemed like an endless journey. My face was so swollen I could barely recognize myself anymore. I started to hate myself and the way I looked. I quit social media because looking at my own pictures was torturous. It made me depressed thinking about how I couldn’t enjoy my life as I did before. The rashes were like virus engulfing my body and soul. I couldn’t find the same genuine smile on my face.

On May 22, I changed doctors, to someone who is more experienced in treating TSW and eczema. She wrote me two formulas, each composed of over 10 different Chinese herbs. One was for taking internally and the other was for putting on my skin. I went there every other day so that she could modify the formulas to suit my ever-changing condition. Unlike western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine aims to cure the root of the problem, enhancing the immune system instead of suppressing it. It restores the balance of the whole body instead of treating a single health problem.

I went back to Toronto for two weeks in June for my convocation. TSW is a long journey, often takes more than 10 months depends on the severity of the condition. Even with the help of Chinese herbs, it is not something that can be completely cured in one month. On June 24, I decided to leave Toronto again to continue my treatment in Hong Kong. It was a huge decision for me because I was planning to look for jobs in Toronto after graduation. However, health should always be the top priority. It is the foundation upon which you build your life. Without health, you won’t be able to live your life to the fullest.

The recovery process of TSW is intense and can be cyclical. On July 7, there were over hundreds of bumps developed on the back of my right leg. They were extremely itchy, painful and some filled with pus. They started oozing clear fluid on the second day. It was so painful that I couldn’t sleep at night and it gave me headaches and nausea. Thanks to the Chinese herbs, the bumps were gone after 4 days. The pictures are attached at the end of the post.

My condition is getting more stable ever since. I have been spending most of my time at home healing to minimize the exposure to allergens that may trigger inflammation. I am committed to take traditional Chinese medicine and putting them on my skin daily. I also take supplements daily despite the use of Chinese herbs. I am currently taking RS, probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C and omega-3. Click here to read more about it – How I Am Healing Eczema Naturally – Supplements and Natural Remedies For Eczema. Since I am still highly allergic to gluten, I eat home-cooked food every day dedicated to low fat, low sodium and gluten-free lifestyle. It is a struggle to find gluten-free food in HK and luckily I found a restaurant that provides delicious, gluten-free options. Here is a food review on KALE HK – A Hidden Gluten-Free Gem in Hong Kong.

To TSW and eczema warriors, don’t give up and believe in the natural healing power of your body. You are beautiful just the way you are.


*******WARNING The following images may be disturbing to some viewers. DO NOT scroll down if you have a fear of wounds or claustrophobia*****

2 thoughts on “5 Months Topical Steroid Withdrawal (July 2019)

  1. Hello its nat here ❤ I’m so happy to see your recovery!! I’m a message away if you ever felt like you are in a dark place 🙂


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