Chad's Life-Threatening Experience with TSW and Infections

The Editorial Team at AtopicDermatitis.net is highlighting people in the eczema community and their healing journeys in a series of Instagram Interviews. We talked to Chad (aka @eczema_man) about how he deals with frustrating eczema symptoms and a life threatening staph infection.

Chad smiles for a selfie in the woods

Chad's eczema story

I have suffered from eczema all my life. But since 2014, I have really been suffering. Red skin and red patchy skin all the time. I did get relief when I was on prednisone.

I could not figure out what was causing the red skin, the dermatologists that I went to were of no help; the doctors that I saw were of no real help. I could not figure out what was triggering this red skin.

Frustrating eczema symptoms from head to toe

Try not eating this and that, try not drinking this and that. Maybe it’s this, or maybe it's that… It was frustrating and stressful. My hands and feet suffered, hot itchy feet all the time.

Pompholyx (dyshidrotic eczema) on my hands, and I slept with cotton gloves taped on my hands. I could not sleep, I slept with just sheets and would wake up sweating even in the winter.

My face was always red and my scalp was always shedding. I had a bad back since 2014 and cortisone injections every year for five years, which may have contributed to the steroid issues on my skin.

The skin on Chad's face is dry and inflamed

Using Instagram to keep track of eczema and TSW

Editorial Team: What led you to sharing about your eczema journey on Instagram? 
Chad: In January 2020, I started to research Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) and found all these people on Instagram with the same suffering. Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) which I was definitely suffering from, and no doctor would say that is what it is.

I wanted to see what change would happen to me if I cut out all steroid creams and prednisone. So I wanted to use Instagram to be connected to people going through the same thing and track what was happening to my body.

There are lots of men with eczema

Editorial Team: Your Instagram handle is @eczema_man. How did you pick the name? Are there any unique struggles being a man with eczema?
Chad: I saw that it was available and thought it would be a good name and good for my own tags. Works for me. Nothing significant about it to me though.

There are a lot of men that suffer from eczema and I know from my own personal experience that it can be frustrating, plays with your mind, self confidence and depressing at times.

TSW led to a life threatening infection

Editorial Team: Can you share more about the staph infection that brought you to the hospital? How did you get through it?
Chad: In February I tried TSW and I lasted 12 days; I was in really bad shape. My body seemed to be falling apart. I was not going to the toilet, retaining water, my legs and feet were swollen; to the point I could not bend my legs. My lymph nodes in neck and groin were so swollen they look like they were going to burst.

Blood tested positive for staph

Doctor I saw said that my kidneys might be failing and suggested that I go to the emergency. I was admitted into emergency and they had a dermatologist care for me. I was suffering from erythrodermic dermatitis and generalized xerosis. She ordered blood tests and immediate wet wraps. My blood results came back positive for golden staph infection in my blood.

I was also suffering from strep agalactiae, deranged liver, eczema herpeticum and low levels of cortisol. I was on antibiotics, prednisone, allergy medication, and anti-virals. I was doing two wet wraps a day. I was in the hospital for 7 days. They inserted a PICC line into my arm and I was on antibiotics via PICC line for 2 weeks after to make sure the staph infection was gone.

Wet wraps, steroid creams, moisturizing and allergy medication

Editorial Team: Any advice for how to cope with healing setbacks and the tough days with eczema?
Chad: My body is addicted to the steroid creams, shutting it off was a bad option. I am also reliant on allergy medication. I take two Zyrtec per day. I have to do one wet wrap with steroid cream each day. I moisturize three times a day. I use Dermeze Treatment Ointment on my body.

I found that if I did not take my allergy medication for a couple of days my body starts to suffer. Lymph nodes seem to get irritated and redness comes back. Once I am back on track with the allergy medication I get back to somewhat normal skin.

Chad takes a selfie

Finding a good dermatologist and starting to feel under control

Editorial Team: Anything else you'd like to add?
Chad: I am glad that I trialled TSW and finally figured out what was going on with my body in February. I am glad that I did end up in the hospital in a strange way; because now I have a team of great dermatologists caring for me. The next step is to wean off the steroid creams and I will see how I go.

I am much happier now, and I am now getting proper sleep, eating better, able to train at the gym again, my hands and feet don’t hurt anymore. My face is not red all the time anymore. I feel like I have this under control finally.

I would like to thank you for asking me for my story!

Follow Chad’s healing journey on Instagram at @eczema_man!

Have you experienced infections in addition to your eczema?

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