The Exodus, and TSW Symptom Checklist


An EXODUS is defined as a going out or a departure, usually of a large group of people (i.e., a “mass exodus”).  Today, I had an exodus.  What happened exactly was this.  In the throes of all my marital difficulties, I decided I was going to secretly move out and not say anything to my husband, and do this at a time he was gone so that he wouldn’t know.  Let him worry, let him figure out why I didn’t come home.  Let him get lonely when he has to get into an empty bed.  He’s probably going to figure out that I’m now living at my parents’ house temporarily, but it gave me a sense of control to plan this behind his back, I was actually kind of gleeful about having a secret.

The perfect opportunity presented itself this afternoon when he went to go to dinner with his parents – I sprang into action, hurriedly throwing food into bags, clothing into a hamper, and all my many toiletries into a crate.  Before I drove hell-bent over to my parents’ house, I gave him the kind parting gift of washing the bedding and changing the sheets.  I really don’t know if I truly have RSS/TSW or not, but my skin has been crazy shedding over the past few weeks.  We have dark colored sheets, so I can see every bit of skin that’s been scratched or rubbed off during the night.  I’m like the Human Dandruff Maker.  Although a vindictive part of me wanted to leave the sheets, skin flakes and all, I decided to be the bigger person and not do that.  Bits of dead skin all over the place are probably not what I want him to remember me by!


Earlier that day, I was at the gym and listening to a mix of songs, when on comes Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around”.  I nearly stopped short on the treadmill…. what a perfect song for my current situation with my husband.  (Lyrics slightly edited).

Hey boy, you were everything I want in a man
You know I gave you the world
You had me in the palm of your hand
So why your love went away
I just can’t seem to understand
Thought it was me and you babe
Me and you until the end
But I guess I was wrong

Don’t want to think about it
Don’t want to talk about it
I’m just so sick about it
Can’t believe it’s ending this way
Just so confused about it
Feeling the blues about it
I just can’t do without ya
Tell me is this fair?

Is this the way it’s really going down?
Is this how we say goodbye?
Should’ve known better when you came around
That you were gonna make me cry
It’s breaking my heart to watch you run around
‘Cause I think that you’re living a lie
That’s okay baby ’cause in time you will find…

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around

Now boy, I remember everything that you claimed
You said you wanted to move on now
And maybe I should do the same
Funny thing about that is
We made a promise and I took your last name
Thought it was me and you, babe
And now, it’s all just a shame
And I guess I was wrong

Don’t want to think about it
Don’t want to talk about it
I’m just so sick about it
Can’t believe it’s ending this way
Just so confused about it
Feeling the blues about it
I just can’t do without ya
Can you tell me is this fair?

Is this the way it’s really going down?
Is this how we say goodbye?
Should’ve known better when you came around
That you were going to make me cry
Now it’s breaking my heart to watch you run around
‘Cause I think that you’re living a lie
That’s okay baby ’cause in time you will find

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around

Now!  It’s time to stop my whining about marital difficulties and get back to eczema.  I’m actually really curious if my eczema will get better while living at my parents’ house, since it only got worse about a year after I got married, and I really NEVER had any significant eczema issues while I lived at home.  If it does get radically better, I can either blame stress or some environmental pollutant in the home I shared with my husband (we do live by a really suspect plot of land where toxic chemicals were dumped…. hmmm).

Anyway, I was on the ITSAN site looking at common symptoms of steroid withdrawal.  Here they are directly from the site.  I will comment after each symptom on my own experience.

These symptoms occur after you stop using topical steroids. You may not experience all of these symptoms, although some people do. You may start experiencing some of these symptoms within days of stopping topical steroids; other symptoms may take longer to occur or may not occur at all. You may experience some of these symptoms throughout the entire time or you may only experience them during flares.

  1. Red burning skin. This typically appears within a week after stopping topical steroids. It may cover a large area from the start or it may start as a small area, eventually spreading. One classic sign is red skin that stops at the wrist. This leaves the palm unaffected but arms and tops of hands red. It may take weeks for the red arm/white palm to appear as the redness spreads.  I don’t really seem to have this – I’ve seen the ‘red sleeves’ pictures of people who have it very badly.  I DO have areas that are red and burn, but they are not large areas.
  1. Unbelievable extremely intense itching. Most experience the itch throughout the entire process, not just during flares. The itch feels like it originates under the skin and is difficult to sooth.  Well, the very nature of eczema is that you’re always itchy.  But, I’ve read this itch is crazy bad.  People will be on their knees begging it to stop.  I can distract myself from itching if I’m doing something with my hands like typing or working.  My itch is no more intense than the constant itch of eczema.
  1. Shedding or flaking skin. Many people find that they shed a lot of skin. You may need to change bed linens and vacuum daily to keep up with the amount of skin flaking off.  I DO have this, hence the mention above of being the ‘human dandruff maker’.  Also, I’ve been experiencing peeling skin around my eyes, under my nose, and under my lip.  This skin will gradually get very dry and tight as the day goes on (no matter how I moisturize) and will be ready to peel by evening.  Using Vaseline actually helps the peels of skin come off better, so I use that at night (not during the day tho, too greasy and shiny).
  1. Edema. Swollen skin; swollen body parts containing fluid. Hands often swell during TSW.  Nah, no swollen skin.  Then again though, I didn’t use steroids for very long periods or use high-strength steroids.  It makes sense that I wouldn’t have all these symptoms.
  1. Oozing skin. Ooze may seep out of skin or form in small blisters (vesiculation). You may find a hard crust over your skin – this is ooze that has dried.  I DID have some ooze/crust under my nose for a few days.  I know, gross.  What a blog, I’ve talked about skin flakes and now oozing.  What’s next, my bowel habits?  They’re great, in case you’re wondering, haha.  The candida diet works magic on keeping people regular and feeling sleek and un-bloated.
  1. Itchy skin. The itch is unbelievably intense and feels like it originates under the skin.  Hmmm, ITSAN already mentioned this one.  I guess they REALLY wanted to emphasize it.
  1. Raw, painful skin. It may feel like a bad sunburn and may be sensitive to even the lightest touch.  I DO have this, especially in my elbow creases.  It’s very red and shiny and it just hurts and is uncomfortable, even though I’m not picking at it or itching it.  It’s also painful and raw behind my knees and can make walking uncomfortable at its worst.
  1. Eczema-like rashes spread from area of skin that was originally affected by eczema. You may experience hives, very dry skin, itchy skin, deep cracks, or tiny cuts in the skin even in areas where topical steroids were never used. The skin is one organ so when one area is medicated, it can affect all of your skin.  I think this is a yes too.  The places that I used topical steroids THE MOST were on my face, and then on my wrists/elbow creases/shoulders, and behind my knees.  Now I have rashes on my neck, stomach, and lower back, and my legs.  I also have very very dry skin.  My skin had kind of an unhealthy color (notably on my legs), but the healthy color seems to be coming back amidst the existing rashes.  I noticed this over the past few weeks.  I don’t know where to mention this but my skin has also had a very faint yet odd smell for a long time – probably noticed it around the time I started this blog and my eczema was getting worse, like September.  I thought it smelled a little like wet paint, but someone else mentioned a ‘skin smell’ on their blog (I think it might have been Pink Like a Beacon’s blog) and so that makes me think it’s connected to RSS/TSW. 
  1. Difficulty regulating body temperature. You may experience freezing hands, feet, or body and often get the chills.  Kind of, yes.  I was always cold this past winter (I don’t know why I’m talking about winter in the past tense, as it’s still here and I still get cold).  My feet are always freezing in bed, so I developed the habit of putting towels in the dryer and then putting them around my feet in bed.
  1. Exhaustion.  Ehh, I don’t know about this one.  I wrote a post about being tired, but I got better with that and I don’t think I’m any more tired than the average person. 
  1. Insomnia or difficulty maintaining a normal sleep schedule.  See above.  I never have trouble getting to sleep, I used to have trouble getting going in the morning, but that got better too.
  1. Loss of appetite.   Nooooo.  Today I ate a whole box of cookies, for example.  They WERE allergy-free special Whole Foods cookies, but I guess that doesn’t make me any less of a glutton.  Following the candida diet has not been so diligent on my part in the past few days, can you tell??
  1. Very, very dry skin that has the look and feel of plastic.  I do have ‘shiny’ very dry parts of skin, like above my eyes and under my nose.

Anyway…. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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11 thoughts on “The Exodus, and TSW Symptom Checklist

  1. Louise says:

    Hi Hun, sorry to hear about your marriage probs. stress is probably the last thing you need right now as it can take a tough toll on your skin.
    Re the symptom list, it is very rare for someone to get ALL of the symptoms (thank goodness), but it is a good guide to the more common ones.

    I’m totally with you on the appetite one! I got super hungry after quitting steroids and gorged in chocolate and sweet stuff! I put on about a stone!

    The shedding can come in phases and alternate with the redness, so you may find that one week you are flaky and the next you are red and oozy. It is pretty gross, but stick with it, we are rooting for ya! Xxx

  2. Hang in there girl! *HUG* Stress always makes it worse, so hopefully that’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

  3. @ Louise, thanks for your comment – yes, my eczema has definitely not gotten any better since this whole ordeal! Even if I do have TSW and it makes sense that I might, as I can’t pin down the eczema to anything else, it wouldn’t be of the same magnitude as some of the people that have used steroids almost literally their entire lives.

    Yeah, my skin seems to be either really red, or flaky and sheddy (at least on my face, in the parts where it doesn’t look ‘normal’) so that makes sense. So grateful for your comments and support! 🙂

    @TheAllergista – Thanks girl!!! I have come to a point now today where I’m feeling more calm and at peace!!

  4. Amanda says:

    I’m impressed that you took such a big step! Good for you. How are you feeling about it since you’ve been at your parents?

  5. Thank you! It felt like the right thing to do and I am feeling good about it. I’m just able to function a lot better and not think about the situation so much since I willingly removed myself from it for the time being!

  6. […] about 5 weeks ago, when I was less than a month into Topical Steroid Withdrawal, I wrote this post discussing all the symptoms and noting which ones I have.  I’m no TSW marathoner in that […]

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  8. Susan says:

    I feel for your pain! I’ve been undergoing TSW hardcore these last 6 months. I’ve found that diet has helped me massively to relieve eczema long term. I hope you guys don’t take this as a pandering that only this diet works but a few of my friends were helped by this too: eating a low fat, Whole Foods plant based diet helped keep the flare ups to minimum for myself and for my friends, their noticing clear skin after 1 + years. Many things can help and I hope this is one of them! Stay strong you guys.

  9. Rianne says:

    i hope this thread is still active and people can reply. I kind of have a few of these symptoms when I stopped using steroids. But I think it gets better with time if you don’t scratch, no matter what and take good care and live stressfree (although I am not able to achieve it myself). But my biggest concern is the last symptom that says plastic-like skin (I have that in the insides of my foot where i got eczema previously) and i do whatever, that plastic-y texture doesn’t change. Ofcourse it’s like “skin” when i put a thin film of my glycerin cream or something of that sort… I m really stuck with that and don’t know what to do to change it.

    • Hi Rianne,
      Sorry to hear about your plastic-like skin! I know this comment is a few months old, hopefully by now your symptoms have found a bit of relief. It took me a few weeks/months to not have plastic-y skin but that was in the worst of it!

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