Generally, symptoms start within a couple of weeks (and up to a couple of months) after discontinuing topical steroids.
However, the sad truth about TSW (or Red Skin Syndrome/RSS) is that it can take years for the body to recover from the inappropriate use of steroids. There is no hard and fast rule to it, though: some people get through the withdrawal and healing process relatively quickly (within 18 months); for others, it can be a frustrating rollercoaster ride of symptoms coming and going for years.
Many people going through TSW find that certain symptoms - swelling, itching, shedding, regeneration - cycle round repeatedly for a while. Sometimes symptoms stop for a peroid of time and return after being triggered by stress or a physical irritant.
What’s Going On?
After you stop using topical steroid creams, you may find that your body reacts in various ways, especially if you’ve been using them for a long time or at high potency. Your body takes a while to get used to functioning without steroids and tends to go through a process of readjustment.
Before you start on your TSW journey:
- Plan to take time off work or education as the effects of TSW can be distressing and intense, physically and emotionally.
- Chart your journey so that you can recognise improvement, however slight or slow. Take photos and write yourself notes.
- Be prepared for anything: remember that TSW is an intense healing process and symptoms can be cyclical, so be aware that any progress is not necessarily straightforward or linear.
- Get support from healthcare professionals and other people going through TSW
What Can Balmonds Do To Help?
Check out our TSW Info Hub for more information about Topical Steroid Withdrawal.
Skin Salvation is a safe, effective, non-steroidal, intensively hydrating emollient that works in four crucial ways to help you manage your TSW or chronic dry skin:
- It is free from the preservatives, perfumes, parabens, essential oils, coconut oils, nut oils, soya, and other common irritants that can hurt so much when applied to such sore. sensitive skin.
- It nourishes depleted skin with the essential fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients the epidermis needs to repair and regenerate.
- It uses beeswax to protect broken or raw areas by providing a fine, protective barrier over the skin - like a sticking plaster over a wound - reducing itchiness and stinging.
- It hydrates, softens and conditions severely dry, flaking or shedding skin.
Balmonds offer information and support, whether you’re going through topical steroid withdrawal, looking for safe long-term management strategies or wondering whether your symptoms match the condition.
For more information about TSW, its symptoms and how to manage them, go to the ITSAN website.
With much gratitude to Holly Broome for her photographs on this page (follow @tsw_hollybee on her TSW journey)
Other hashtags to follow for peer-to-peer support: #thisisnoteczema #tsw #TSWFab5
Current medical advice is not to use daily topical steroids continuously for more than two to four weeks; then the frequency should be tapered to twice weekly use.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.