CASE STUDY: Treating Topical Steroid Withdrawal and Red Skin Syndrome with Herbal Medicine
Jane* and I have been working together via video conference for the past few months. She has suffered from Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) for over 6 years after Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW). Here’s what she looked like when we first met and how she looks 4 months later after being treated with herbal medicine.
Before Jane and I started working via video conference, she had been bedridden for 1.5 years during the past 6 years. At her worst point, she experienced full body, red, burning skin that oozed and cracked into hundreds of fissures. She had to live between bed and bath for many months due to the excruciating pain. She had lost most of her hair, and Herpeticum outbreaks were common. She also developed a cataract that needed a lens implant, had terrible insomnia and random bursts of anxiety and adrenaline., Often, she felt exhausted and had flu-like symptoms.
During this time, Jane tried to manage her symptoms with an assortment of creams and lotions, light therapy, Dead Sea salt baths, lemon balm for herpeticum outbreaks, CBD oil, Advil for muscle pain and probiotics. By the time we met, her symptoms were better than her worst point, but she just couldn’t get her skin and life completely back to normal.
After the first appointment, I prescribed a customized herbal formula that addressed her skin’s extreme redness. It was clear that the cause of the redness was also the source of many of her other issues. So, we agreed to meet every 2 weeks to re-evaluate her condition and adjust her herbal formula ingredients, as needed.
One Month Later
The first thing Jane noticed during the treatment was she was able to sleep thru the night for the first time since RSS took over. This caused a dramatic ripple effect since she now felt more rested and better able to face her day. Good sleep also helps the overall healing process. She also noticed that her skin felt better, but it would take more time before the changes inside her body began to manifest, outside. I prescribed an herbal medicine topical so we could treat the skin from inside and out. Sometimes it takes a while for RSS sufferers to be able to use topicals due to the ultra-sensitivity of their skin, but Jane was able to handle this particular topical, well.
Four Months Later
As you can see from the pictures, Jane’s skin is no longer red or burning, her skin texture has changed from the typical elephant wrinkles and exaggerated, deepened lines to more supple and hydrated. Her skin’s elasticity has returned and it no longer hurts. She continues to sleep thru the night and feels more energetic and happy.
Jane is continuing with herbal medicine treatment under my care. As often happens, once we eliminate the redness, we now have to focus on restoring the systems that were affected and return the skin to full, normal function.
Recently, Jane mentioned she is now able to sweat, a normal skin function that allows the body to cool itself. She also noticed that when she is outside, becomes warm from the sun, she doesn’t automatically go into a flare state. These are great signs that her skin and system are returning to normal.
*Note: Jane is a pseudonym to protect her privacy
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About the Author
Dr. Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, DACM, Cert. TCM Dermatology is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats TSW patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, is the Chair of the American Society of Acupuncturists Board of Directors, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Support Group sponsored by The National Eczema Association.