Here I am around six weeks after ceasing application of topical corticosteroids. As you can see, my condition isn't all that bad compared to that of some others you can find on the internet. I have no idea whether it's going to be all uphill from now on, or whether I am going to experience the "flares" I hear people talking about. Well that is why I'm going to try and keep this blog! So I guess we will find out.
I haven't experienced anything that I would call a "flare" as of yet. The condition of my skin tends to vary from day-to-day, with no noticeable pattern (I've grown used to this over the years), but has been fairly steady so far.
As you can see, my neck is fairly red and inflamed, and it can be pretty uncomfortable to turn my head at all on a bad day. The areas on the side of my neck, where my skin folds, get insanely itchy, and as a result, can get quite sore and cracked as a result of scratching. You can see in this picture several red patches where I have scratched my skin raw. One patch is shiny form being freshly scratched. My forehead and the the area around my eyes are also pretty irritated, though not as badly as my neck.
My hands – though it may not look like it – irritate me the most on a daily basis; they itch like hell, flake like crazy, and have become painfully cracked at times. The end of my fingers are particularly irritable, and the skin at the beds of my fingernails has mostly come away, which is either caused by, or aggravates the skin there. The skin on my left forefinger in particular has receded slightly, which has been pretty painful at times. The skin on my hands is quite thick, which is something which has been getting progressively worse for the past year or two. I have occasionally accidentally scraped the top layers of my skin off entirely, leaving a weeping wound which takes a good week or so to really start to heal. Not pleasant.
My forearms are slightly red, with the skin around my wrists and elbows being the worst. My upper arms, especially the areas around my armpit on either side, have also been getting dry and itchy recently. My thighs also get itchy, and have particularly thick skin, though this may be from the scratching more than the steroids.
At the moment, my skin care routine involves showering in the morning, applying an emollient (Epaderm), reapplying throughout the day (washing my skin if it feels particularly irritated), and using aqueous cream with 1% menthol to try and suppress itching (this can work really well sometimes). I generally take a one- to two-hour bath in the evenings, which not only soothes my irritated skin, but also causes the layer of dry skin to rub off, which seems to relieve my soreness somewhat. I take antihistamines before bed, and sleep with my windows open to try and keep myself cool. If I get sweaty at night, I tend to wake up with an unbearable itch, and scratching (especially when half asleep) most definitely does not help the situation.
I have read some recommendations that not moisturizing can help speed recovery, but I simply cannot go without moisturizer; it is too painful. Maybe I'll be able to try it at some point, but I guess that will have to wait for another update.
Until next time!