Steroids. They are the bane of our existence as people with chronic eczema. We all have lived through the false hope and disappointment of being prescribed endless supplies of steroids to no avail— at least not permanently. And permanent is the goal.
Using topical steroids everyday to keep my skin symptoms at bay
But having lived through 15 years of steroid addiction myself, I have some mixed thoughts about steroid use. In my experience, when I first started using them, they did help somewhat. And although it now feels like a distant memory and is something I will never go back to using, it must have worked well enough for me to continue using them for over a decade.
I would have to use them every day it seemed just to feel like I could stay afloat and somewhat functional and presentable (in my mind) to the world physically. My hotspots were the usual places of itch: back of the legs, elbow creases, neck and pretty much anywhere a good amount of sweat could collect.
My experience with topical steroid addiction
When I turned thirteen, after 8 years of consistent daily steroid use, I distinctly remember looking at the inside of my left elbow crease, seeing how dry and paper thin it looked and then poking at it touching the bone! My skin was so thin that it was just a layer on top of my bone. No fat, no suppleness, no cushion whatsoever. In that moment, I thought to myself, “I am thirteen years old, yet I have the arms of an 80-year old!” (No offence to the elderly.) This was not right. This was not healthy. But, despite having that epiphany, it would take me another 7 years before I really hit rock bottom and would make some real changes to how I approached my eczema treatment and the healing modalities that I would open myself up to. When I got off the steroids and started using herbalism and healthy nutrition as ways to recover, I got back that supple cushion in the creases of my elbows, so luckily, it’s not a doomed symptom. Thankfully, Mother Nature always provides and with the right ingredients, I found that I could bounce back from all of the side effects of steroid use!
A time and place for using topical corticosteroids
So, keeping all of these things in mind, I think that there is some merit to using steroid ointments and creams. But only if there is a cut off time. Like, maybe if you get an itchy rash for the first time and you use it sparingly for about 1-2 weeks. Definitely not for more than 1 month. After it passes that time period, it starts to become a chronic condition and if the steroids haven’t completely gotten rid of it by then, then they never will. Not alone. If you at least couple it with a healthy diet, stress reduction, and using other good quality skincare products primarily made from botanicals, then it might be worthwhile.