Over 6 Months and Very Triumphant!

Well my goodness, how does time fly.  I think I owe all you wonderful people another post, since this blog has been silent for a good few weeks.

With TSW blogs, it’s more often than not a good sign when someone doesn’t post in a while!  As my fellow blogger Louise has written, she is “blogging less and living more”!   And the same is true for me.

I would say that I am currently about 90-95% healed and I’ve been that way for at least a good few weeks.  I never thought I would be able to wear shorts, short sleeves or tank tops in public again, but have done so multiple times over the past month!

What TSW victors say really is true, though it’s difficult to believe in the depths of the rash and the itch and the insomnia.  One day you just kind of realize, “Hey, I’m almost healed!”  You start doing “normal” things again, like exercising consistently, not worrying about food, not being obsessed with looking in the mirror at your skin, and choosing whatever clothes you want.  And you sometimes don’t even realize how “normal” things are now, until you take a look back at the dark TSW past, like maybe you run across some pictures of you in the worst of it, or you find your stash of creams or “TSW outfits”, or you realize you have zero need for Vaseline anymore and almost kinda hate the stuff!

I have made a huge dive back into fitness and exercise in these past few months of feeling and looking so much better.  I was a pretty die-hard exerciser, so when my consistent exercise routine got sidelined for a few months (first with a cold that turned into nasty bronchitis thanks to asthma, and then with the worst of TSW), it was kind of like I had lost part of my identity.  Now I am exercising a BUNCH!  I am running, biking, swimming, and lifting with renewed appreciation for my healthy body and how it has healed and how it can do all these amazing things that we so often take for granted.

Now here is where I want to add a little disclaimer, and I think I have brought this up before.  Some people might be reading this and pout and scoff, “Well!  Ms. EczemaExcellence is all fine and good to write about being nearly healed in 6 months, but there is no way she had that quick of healing!  Most adults take at least a year!”  And to that I say, “Why yes!  Yes, gentle reader, you are absolutely right!”

See, it was around this very time last year, that my skin started getting bad.  I actually remember that one day, I was so fed up that I wrote an angry letter “To Eczema”, stuff like, “Dear eczema:  I don’t understand why you’re ruining my life, you’re so controlling and I’ve done everything to try and get you to go away!  I just want to look normal again!  With the help of God, I banish you!”  Not like I thought this would help, but I was desperate and I thought it might be therapeutic, haha.  And it was just over a year ago that I started this blog, and then continued to embark on the journey of trying everything to “cure” myself, until I discovered TSW and then OFFICIALLY stopped all steroids in January.  But without a doubt, I was going through TSW well before I even knew about it.  And my use of steroid creams from July to January was really sporadic, so this use probably just prolonged my healing a little bit.

All that rambling to say, I know I used the title of 6 months, but it really is more like 1 year.

So what is my skin doing today?  As has been the case for the last months, any lingering “eczema” areas are localized to behind my knees and on my arms.  One day recently I wore shorts to the gym, and after working out on the machines, broke out in this weird itchy, bumpy rash behind my knees (which thankfully only lasted a day).  Clearly there was some kind of contact dermatitis issue, so I still have sensitive skin and have to watch out and be cautious about what I come in contact with.  I also got super excited by Miss Kitty’s post about being able to pet cats, and promptly figured that maybe I also would get lucky and be able to roughhouse with dogs in a blissfully itch-free manner.  Visiting a relative’s dog yesterday, I didn’t even TOUCH the thing and my skin and eyes got itchy, so I know that lovingly petting animals is still, sadly, a no.  (This is fine though, I can still admire them from afar.  In the grand scheme of things, there are worse maladies than not being able to hug a dog or cat).

So, I still do itch and get scabs here on my limbs sometimes, but nothing crazy, more just like “normal” eczema, I guess.  I am waiting for some scars to heal and fade before I truly have “clear” skin, but it’s clear enough for me to live with!  ESPECIALLY because my face and neck are no longer affected and to look at me, no one might be the wiser that I ever struggled with this itchy bastard of TSW.  I have the graphic pictures to prove it, some of which I never even posted on this blog, but even for me, the memory of the sleepless nights and the oozing and all the grossness is distant.  I lived it, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, but now it’s all about “What have I learned from the experience of TSW that I can use to help others that might be suffering”.

I don’t post a ton on the ITSAN forum and though I try to make my way ’round the blogs, I don’t comment as much as I’d like, but truly – if anyone needs an encouraging word, you are more than welcome to contact me!   Stay strong, skin friends, you WILL come out triumphant on the other side!

 

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24 thoughts on “Over 6 Months and Very Triumphant!

  1. Andrew in SD says:

    Congrats on making the six month mark? Is it okay if I share your blog on our TSW reddit page? Do you have a first name or pseudonym we can use to tag your blog?

    Thanks
    Andrew, 5.5 months into TSW

    • Andrew in SD says:

      that first question mark was supposed to be an exclamation point…woops

    • Hi Andrew! You are more than welcome to share my blog on the TSW reddit page… I am honored 🙂 You can use my pseudonym “Ms. EczemaExcellence” as that is what I go by on the ITSAN forum. Please send me the link when it’s posted, I’d love to check out the other things on your reddit page!

  2. joey says:

    wooooow

  3. louise says:

    Love you so much x

    Isn’t healing great? It’s do lovely to be able to live our lives again without stressing about our skin!

    I love all the healing stories and I am so glad that your healing jorney was so quick.

    I need to work on my whole fitness thing now. Maybe I should start a new blog, lol!

    • Love to you too!! 🙂 I LOVE the healing and your blog has always been one of the most helpful. If I ever make it overseas from here in the USA, I’m making a beeline for your town and giving you a great big hug!

  4. Tracy says:

    WOW! So happy to read such good news! I am entering the 6th month (5 1/2 months in). I am so happy to have my first real break! Your 1 year TSW thing makes sense! I had a sort of withdrawal where I used TS sporadically and only the over the counter strength – went through TSW for 3 years – wish I knew then what I know now! 🙂 I am hoping to be much better and back to work at my 1 year mark. Going to increase my exercise and focus more on healing….instead of stressing so much about not working. Keep living! You are an inspiration!

    • Aww thank you Tracy! I was very glad to hear about your break – you are certainly long over due for some relief!! Yes, definitely view the break from working as a gift to yourself – to focus on doing things for YOU!

  5. Megan says:

    Awesome news! I’m also looking forward to 6 months, if not to be almost healed, but for it to be what most ppl say is the turning point from worsening to slowly healing. Great progress 😀

  6. Jennifer says:

    Such great news! I’m very happy for you! Let me know if you’d like to try something out on your minor flares – I’ll be happy to recommend something for you and send a sample your way 🙂

  7. Em says:

    Hi there. I’m just wondering how you’re doing now? I’m in week 11 and doing pretty bad right now. Like you, I took this on just after a marriage breakup, but for me, there is a child involved too. At my lowest ebb ever right now really, and every day is an itchy raw stinging mess. My lower legs and arms are bad plus both hands and my face and neck cycle in and out. I’m hoping there is a light for me too. Everyone says the first four months are the worst. I’m not sure I can struggle through with much more without a break. This second major flare in is in its fourth week now! I don’t get much down time from it. Anyway, I really feel like we are on the same wave length going by your blog and I’m wondering how you are now and wanted to touch base as not many people in my life understand this. Em. Xx

    • Hi Em! Thank you so much for stopping by. My heart goes out to anyone that had to deal with this PLUS any other emotionally tough issues like divorce. I’m glad to know I’m not alone, but geez, it absolutely, positively sucks to go through both of those things at once, as you well know! I hope you’re doing some caring, relaxing things for yourself, since TSW and marriage breakup is hard enough, let alone being a parent besides, I’m sure. So sorry to hear that you’re in the worst of the symptoms right now. I think my very worst times were probably from weeks 8 through 11, so I am hoping for you that things will start to improve soon, even though you will see some more cycles of rashes and flares. How long did you use topical steroids for, and what strength/potency, out of curiosity?

      Absolutely we are on the same wavelength. I am here to help others now that I beat TSW, and I want to help you in any way I can. If you want to chat more and email me privately, you are more than welcome to! To answer your question, I am coming up on the 8th month and I am basically completely healed. The only skin issues I have is a few areas on my legs that sometimes get a sort of bumpy/pimply rash, but that’s pretty minor. I also still have a few enlarged lymph nodes, but they don’t bother me. I can wear whatever i want, clothing wise, now. My face is completely normal – I use a variety of skincare products, makeup, etc. This coming from a girl who thought she would NEVER be healed!! If I can heal (and everyone else that’s gone before me), you and all others in TSW will heal too. It is a tough road but you will get to the end of it! Stay strong Em… you are stronger and more resilient than you know!!! Hugs ~ Ms. Eczema Excellence

  8. Em says:

    Hey there
    I would absolutely love to chat more and email.
    I can’t find your email though, what is it?
    I used steroids most of my life, but very much on and off, I do believe my “addiction” started in the last 3-4 years and after my pregnancy I used TS like they were moisturiser on my hands mainly.
    My hands, arms and legs are the worst but my neck and face flare in and out quite badly too.
    Depressed and feel like I will never be rid of this insane itch, body covered in sores and just…pain and torment.
    😦
    xx

  9. Em says:

    This is so uplifting to me, but I so want to be you right now…
    ” I also still have a few enlarged lymph nodes, but they don’t bother me. I can wear whatever i want, clothing wise, now. My face is completely normal – I use a variety of skincare products, makeup, etc. “

  10. Em says:

    When do you think the INSANE itch stopped?
    I am in Week 11 and the itch is still INSANE.
    Did you feel there was a time when that dissipated?
    xx

  11. Ingrid Allen says:

    hello! I am week six of healing after using much in the way EM described above. I was slathering that 1% on my hands for years not realizing the damage i was doing. At this point my hands are icky. dry and crusted patches and redness ebbs and flows. I can see slight improvement in some areas but the crusting and drying is still going on. I am trying using absolutely nothing on my worst patches. After reading the new info from the japanese doctors recently released im convinced moisturizer withdrawal is better for me. EVERY kind of hemp, coconut oil you name it made me worse in the first few weeks. Im only into a week of doing nothing except dead sea salt baths once a day and will soon start using some organic witch hazel if i need it. I am curious when you started to see any vast improvement. You too Em. Hanging in there. It stinks on the hands, I am a SAHM with three little kids and the hand washing only makes it worse so I try to avoid it at all costs

    • Hey Ingrid! Sorry for the delay. Hands are definitely one of the worst spots since they are nearly impossible to keep dry and un-cracked and not crusty and irritated. Plus being a mom I’m sure makes it so tough. I do think there is something to be said for moisturizer withdrawal. When my hands were bad, almost every moisturizer stung them, so I just used nothing, and they healed fine. Hmm, when did I start to see vast improvement… I would say around the 90 day mark with 3 months down, I considered myself to be about 40-50% healed, and my last bad flare was about the 4 month mark… then I gradually got better from there. Keep me posted on how you are healing, hang in there.. I promise it gets better, Ingrid!

      • Ingrid says:

        Thanks for the reply! So do you have any skin problems now? This is such a drag but I’m glad I finally quit steroids. I’m going to be in the sun In fla next month-what sunscreen do you recommend? Any other tips on salt baths tea tree oil, supplements or diet changes that you think actually helped!? I’m willing to do anything but I personally don’t see any benefits when I cut out dairy 😦

      • Hi again! No, currently I have almost zero skin problems now. My hands have been getting a little dry and irritated from washing my hands a lot at work, and I sometimes get a couple little rashes/itchy spots in my hip and knee creases, but that is IT! Much better than before when I was using steroid creams.

        I highly recommend using Vanicream SPF 35 Sport as far as sunscreen. When I was going through steroid withdrawal, it was one of the few things that didn’t sting or burn my face. I still use it as my daily moisturizer because I like it that much. It goes on really smooth, has no odor, and keeps my skin soft all day.

        I don’t really think that anything as far as diet or supplements helped me. I had a period of time where I also tried not to eat dairy (and tried a lot of different diets before I knew this was TSW), but I don’t think it made any real difference in my skin. Now as far as asthma (which I have), I DO find that dairy tends to make my asthma a little worse, so I do try not to eat it a lot. My recommendations would tend more toward the stuff you put ON your skin: if you use bar soap, I found Dove Sensitive to be the mildest, and for a moisturizing body wash, Eucerin makes one for dry, sensitive skin that comes in a gold bottle and has omega-3 oils. Avene Tolerance Extreme cream (you can find it online) is expensive but I found to be a perfect moisturizer as again, it’s one of the few things that didn’t burn or sting my skin at its worst. Any more questions? 🙂 Do you have the rashes only on your hands, or elsewhere?

  12. Hi!
    I’m wondering how you are doing now and wanted to ask you something about your withdrawal.
    I am in the midst of a severe flare up now…worst I’ve ever had and am not sure if it’s TSW or eczema, and if it is TSW, if I’m just starting or finishing. I’ve had eczema since I was a little, mostly upper flexors and neck. Nothing severe, mild steroids worked. Don’t remember anything too bad until about 2 years ago and went through one tube of steroids in about 5 years..so using very little. 2 years ago I started naturopathic med school and also decided to stop using my steroids. I lasted about 2 months and it flared all on my neck and chest…hot, itchy, raw. My diet wasn’t great then either (dairy, sugar, wheat). I gave up one night and covered it in steroids. Since then I’ve used about half a tube of betamethasone valerate.1% on my inner elbows and neck. It would flare every week if I let it, some weeks I would put steroids on and some I would alley flare and see if I could heal it naturally. Unfortunately I always eventually caved and put on the steroids. Diet was better but still not great. A little over a month ago, in the middle of med school finals and very high stress, I flare. My neck, arms, shoulders, the usual. I was flaring for about 3 weeks before I caved as covered myself in steroids. This time however, it stated spreading down my arms onto my hands and onto my chest stomach and back. I saw my GP and an immunologist and got more steroids which I used for about a week over my body and face until I finished exams. My stress levels were HIGH at the time and have remained so because of this flare. I also cut my finger open trying to chop something , which required a tetanus shot during the flare, making things worse. I stopped the steroids officially a couple weeks ago. The rash now covers both arms, chest , shoulders, breasts, stomach , back, neck and face and I have developed new discoid legions, which I’ve learned apparently can show up or worsen after trauma (cut finger). It was also colder weather here in Vancouver than it’s been in 20 some odd years. Just recently today and yesterday, my arms and neck seem to be less itchy more dry, but back is getting worse and redness is spreading, but it overall feels bettteelr. Is this a calm before the storm or may I be healing?
    Anyways, thanks for reading. I was just wondering if you had any insights as to your process and mine or if you had any ideas as to if I’m well into TSW ( 2 years with intermittent use and previous severe flares when trying to stop) or if I’m just starting the process.

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