Tag Archives: red skin syndrome healing

End-Stage Flares, and Taming the Scratchy Monster Book!

Look at what arrived in the mail to me the other day!  A special package all the way from California!

Taming the Scratchy Monster

“Taming the Scratchy Monster” is a wonderful little book written by Louise Brown, with a foreword by Kristina Ventura.  Both of these ladies have firsthand experience with TSW – Louise Brown has battled bravely through months of withdrawal and is almost healed (Hooray!!) and Kristina saw her beautiful daughter Keira also go through the process and become a vibrant, fully healed little girl who enjoys life WITHOUT having itchy skin interfere!

Though I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting either of these lovely souls in person, I feel an instant connection with each of them since we have the journey of TSW and healing in common.  I only wish I had had this book earlier this year, when I was going through the worst parts of TSW.  We all KNOW that we are supposed to heal, but doubt always creeps in, and even for an adult, this book is comforting to see the hero, Billy, battle the “scratchy monster” by ceasing to feed him with “cream” (steroid cream) and come triumphant through the red, dry, and oozy skin.  The illustrations are captivating and a perfect complement to the story line.  It is also a PERFECT way to explain TSW to other people that might not “get it”.  Kudos to Louise and Kristina for their efforts in this book and spreading awareness of TSW!

As for me, my skin is still doing well!  You can probably gather that because my posts are more few and far between.  I thought I would show you all some pictures of what “end-stage” TSW looks like.  I have a few stubborn areas that keep cycling through “mini flares”, but in the grand scheme of things, this is so minimal compared to full-blown TSW.  Joey Brown on the ITSAN forums has mentioned this too – being mainly healed, but having a few areas that are just hanging on, so I think that is a common thing to expect.

Now with these remaining areas, for me it is definitely a case of “first in, last out”, because these areas are around my elbow and knee creases, and this is one of the very first places I ever had “eczema”.  I had eczema in these zones as a child before I ever used steroid creams, so I might just be subject to having little bouts of eczema here in the future anyway.

I also find it interesting how (for me, at least) these little rashes are asymmetrical.  My entire left arm has been completely healed for a while and just has some slight areas with lighter pigmentation.  My right arm is the only rashy one.  My right leg also gets many more of the little flares than my left leg.  I’ve experienced the “asymmetry” before, prior to knowing I was going through TSW.  I had a very stubborn area around my left eye that was always red, but my right eye was fine.

Bumps on leg

Little pimply bumps on my leg above the knee. They don’t itch, but they are tempting to pick at!

 

Mini flares on right arm.  These get a little red, itch slightly, then go through some minor flaking and scabbing, and then start over again.  One day they should be fully healed, I think!

Mini flares on right arm. These get a little red, itch slightly, then go through some minor flaking and scabbing, and then start over again. One day they should be fully healed, I think!

Another view of arm flares.

Another view of arm flares.  When they are in a healed stage, I just have little spots of discoloration on my arm from the scabs turning into scars.

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I plan to do a post about Post-TSW Facial Skin Care coming soon one of these days – it’s a funny problem to have, that now I have no idea what my actual “skin type” is, since it was masked by eczema for so long.  (It’s not actually a problem at all, but it’s a big contrast between this being my most tiny, miniscule concern, compared to the concerns I had when my face was all wrecked and red and puffy)  My skin makes its own oil and I actually get a bit of acne or clogged pores sometimes!  A far cry from the days when my face was all flaking off and had NO oil!

Hope everyone out there is continuing to heal nicely and seeing improvements!

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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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