Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) can strike anyone at any age. It’s especially tough on children and teenagers, because it can be difficult to diagnose, and can make enjoying a normal childhood difficult.
An obstacle for former TSW patients is overcoming the fear of new doctors and new treatments any time they experience skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis later in life. They know all too well that their previous TSW symptoms were initially caused by a medication.
That’s what happened to *Lily. She had already experienced TSW as a young child. She and her mom *Janice tell the story of what happened when Lily recently experienced a recurrence of eczema as a teen. Neither she nor her mother had any desire for Lily to touch steroid-based treatments again.
“I am currently 15 years old, and when I was little, I had topical steroid withdrawal,” says Lily. “It was pretty awful, but I healed up and lived a normal life for years.”
“Then when I got to be a teenager, my skin flared up again. My mom’s acupuncturist referred us to Dr. Olivia. I liked her right away. She is very kind and encouraging. She was confident that she could help me, and that was nice to hear.”
Mom Was Nervous at First
Janice says, “After healing from TSW as a child, Lily started to have eczema-type flare-ups as she entered her teens. It wasn’t as bad as her childhood TSW, but it was still uncomfortable and distressing for her.”
“We spent some time seeing our family TCM practitioner, who was wonderful but just couldn’t get ahead of Lily’s worsening skin condition. He recommended we consult with Dr. Olivia.”
“I was very nervous, especially because due to Lily’s previous TSW, I knew that Lily was so hurt by medications before. Once you’ve experienced TSW, it is so scary to try any medications or herbs.” “But Dr. Olivia made us feel safe and comfortable right away. She clearly had lots of experience in hard-to-treat skin conditions, and asked great questions.”
Lily Begins Herbal Medicine
Lily began a course of herbal medicine treatment specifically prescribed by Dr. Olivia for her unique skin symptoms and medical history. “I started on herbs, and even though they did not taste the best, they really helped,” says Lily.
“Over a few months, my skin started to heal and stayed healed. Then, when I also started using topical herbs, they helped instead of making me itchier like other lotions. Dr. Olivia was always such a good listener, and she adjusted my herbs however I needed.”
Janice also recalls how things went once Lily began taking herbal medicine: “We started on systemic herbs. Lily wasn’t thrilled with the taste, but they quickly proved to be worth it. The frequent check-ins with Dr. Olivia were invaluable. She was able to change the herb formulations as needed based on Lily’s overall health and symptoms, and also to listen and be there with support.
“We also just enjoyed our talks with Dr. Olivia,” says Janice. “Because she was genuinely interested in Lily as a person beyond her skin and symptoms. When Lily’s skin could tolerate it, she started topical herbs, which also seemed to help a lot and speed up the healing.
“It definitely wasn’t overnight, but slowly and steadily Lily healed up more and more, and the rate of healing seemed to accelerate as we went.”
Before and After Photos
One Year Later
Janice reports how herbal medicine proved successful in restoring her daughter’s natural, healthy skin. “After about a year, Dr. Olivia felt Lily had healed well enough to stop the herbs and we could then watch and see how she did. That was six months ago, and Lily has continued to heal since with no rebounds or fresh problems.”
Lily concurs: “I stopped taking herbs after a year, and in the six months since then my skin keeps healing without them. I’m glad I tried seeing Dr. Olivia because I think she helped me a lot.”
That’s the goal of herbal medicine – to permanently heal skin and restore its ability to function without assistance. TCM goes much deeper than merely symptom-management — it addresses the internal health of the patient in a comprehensive way. That’s why Janice also notes that her daughter Lily’s asthma and allergies also improved since her course of herbal medicine treatment with Dr. Olivia.
How is Lily Doing Today?
Janice reports that Lily is doing great! “She is still using some topical herbs, since they are part of the only moisturizer we’ve ever found that her skin doesn’t hate. But she’s finding she needs to put them on smaller and smaller areas as her skin gradually balances out.”
“Lily’s skin continues to heal, and she lives a normal life now, able to play in creeks, go paddleboarding, go for hikes even when it is windy. We are so much less anxious, knowing we have Dr. Olivia in our corner if Lily needs her.”
What Mom Says Now
“Dr. Olivia has been such a blessing for Lily, and for our whole family. She was always there for us, quick to respond to questions, reassuring us in the frequent times of anxiety that come with surviving something as awful as topical steroid withdrawal,” says Janice.
“The herbs were expensive, but for us they have been worth it and more. I will always be so very grateful to her for how she has helped my daughter.”
*Lily and Janice are pseudonyms to protect this patient’s privacy
Want to Learn More About Eczema?
Dr. Olivia offers a free e-course called “Solving Eczema Inside and Out” and other resources for those suffering from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal. Also, check our media section for interviews and more articles on TSW.
About the Author
Olivia Hsu Friedman, LAc, Dipl.OM, DACM, Cert. TCMDerm, is the owner of Amethyst Holistic Skin Solutions and treats Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, and TSW. Olivia treats patients via video conferencing using only herbal medicine. Olivia is Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Acupuncturists, serves on the Advisory Board of LearnSkin, and is a faculty member of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Group sponsored by the National Eczema Association.