Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW or RSS, Red Skin Syndrome) is a total bitch. I’ve been there. In fact I battled that horrific condition for more than four years. Basically, I had several problems that kept me dealing with it way longer than I believe I needed to: My digestion was an absolute mess, I had the mindset of victimhood (doctors did this to me!), and I refused to take responsibility for my own health.
Don’t get me wrong, I was very mindful about health, constantly researching various diets and supplements, reading about TSW and hoping I would get better. But I wasn’t really doing the work that needed to be done.
In fact, the work that needed doing was incredibly simple: I needed to fast, and break my fasts with incredibly simple meals. Rinse and repeat.
You see, once I realized that the secret to good health, in fact, lies in simplicity rather than complexity, less rather than more, that‘s when everything got way easier.
It‘s weird, this consumerist ideal of always looking out for the next big superfood, or the next essential nutrient, mineral, or supplement, or the big new hormone imbalance that everyone suddenly has (Oh, and, very conveniently, they have this ointment or pills to sell you that will do the trick). We‘ve been bamboozled, indoctrinated into believing that we‘re sick because we‘re not getting enough of whatever the hell it is that they‘re selling.
In reality, we‘re sick because of an excess of all kinds of things. Too much fake food, too much sugar, too much plastic, too much screen time, too much fast food, too much porn… And this is great news, because we have way more power to remove things from our lives that aren‘t serving us, than to find exactly the right supplement or medicine to save us.
That‘s why fasting is such a beautiful tool for healing. Not only does it break the cycle of excess that most of us are living in, but it puts into play various healing mechanisms that lie dormant in our bodies, especially so-called autophagy (self-eating), where in the absence of food to digest the body starts literally burning its own cells. Specifically, being the intricately sophisticated system of systems that it is, the body begins by burning the most toxic, most damaged cells and tissues available.
Now, I love talking about fasting, as you may already know, but today I want to view it through the lens of Topical Steroid Withdrawal. There‘s this annoying misconception that diet has absolutely nothing to do with the progression of TSW, but that‘s simply not the case. While I do believe that TSW is an actual thing, that there is an actual withdrawal from the use of the purported „miracle drug“ of corticosteroids, I also believe that the withdrawal period itself is blown way out of proportion.
Through my own extensive research and direct experience, I‘ve come to the conclusion that instead of lasting many years, the withdrawal period may rather last only for a few months up to maybe six months (just a guess really, I believe my own actual withdrawal period lasted for about four months, but it may last longer for others).
The reason I say this is because in the summer of 2019, when I decided to fast myself to health or die trying, I went from being the same red, oozing, flaking mess of a man that I had been for the previous four years, to becoming vibrantly healthy, free of all symptoms of TSW (along with eliminating various ostensibly unrelated issues, like digestive problems, allergies, blurry eyesight, constant infections, and so on), in a matter of a few months.
I believe that what was actually going on was that, like a band-aid, I had been applying hydrocortisone creams on top of the symptoms of a far more serious root illness, hiding the surface characteristics but doing nothing to address the core disease, and probably just making it worse. So like putting band-aids on a festering sore, and then when the pus starts leaking out on the sides, you just put on a bigger, stronger band-aid, one on top of the other.
Then when the band-aids stop working, when the sore is just too big and painful, and you decide to pull them all off (quitting steroid medications cold turkey and going into withdrawal) you get to see and experience what‘s actually going wrong. Gangrene, black veins, pus oozing out of the sore, the works. It has nothing to do with the band-aid, and everything to do with neglecting to take responsibility for your own health.
I don‘t say that in a mean-spirited way, either. I would guess 99% of people shirk responsibility for their own health. It is, in fact, what we‘re actively encouraged to do by mainstream medicine. „Consult your physician“ has become an excuse to not think independently about health and illness.
So to bring the analogy of the festering sore to a conclusion, when we remove the steroid creams, we absolutely do go into withdrawal, but then we’re left with the inflamed wound that we’ve avoided for so long. If you’re anything like me, you will have used tons of other medications throughout your life apart from hydrocortisone creams, like antibiotics, pain killers, antihistamines, oral corticosteroids, and many others. Realize that all these drugs do is mask symptoms. They will never address any root cause. To make things worse, most if not all of these drugs will have long-term, compounding side-effects, health-debts, that will need to be repaid at some point.
So that means that, even when the Topical Steroid Withdrawal proper is actually over, we’re left with an immune system that’s on the brink of collapse, a digestive system that has ceased to extract nutrients from foods and becomes inflamed by anything and everything, and a mind that becomes deeply depressed and anxious for no particular reason.
The point I’m trying to make here is that, yes, you may have to wait out TSW, but it may not be the many-year-long process it’s been made out to be. That doesn’t mean there aren’t serious issues that need to be addressed, because there certainly are. It does mean, however, that you have way more power to influence your trajectory into vibrant health than you’ve been led to believe. Allow me to reiterate, succinctly, the steps that need to be taken for you to truly heal:
Step 1: FAST
Step 2: BREAK SAID FAST WITH RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLE MEALS
Step 3: REPEAT AS NEEDED
It really is as simple as that. Simplify. Simplify ad ridiculum, as the Romans (might have) said. Forget about all the supplements and the superfoods and the (God forbid) pharmaceuticals that you’re taking right now. Remove everything but a few well chosen foods, and then fast for as long as you can muster. Break your fast with a super simple meal, like a bowl of Greek yoghurt and some grapes, or some chicken and rice. Obviously do thorough research on fasting beforehand, be sensible.
In my experience animal fats have been the easiest on my digestive system, although now I eat a varied diet with no ill-effect. That’s the thing, the simple diet part is and should be temporary. If you play your cards right, and manage to fully heal yourself, you should be able to digest most anything (actual food, that is, not the artificial garbage that fills the grocery store aisles these days) with ease.
May you be successful and healthy for the rest of your days.
If you want to delve further into these matters, might I suggest that you check out my book (cha-ching!) Health, Simplified, available through Amazon here. It’s a nice and concise tome on my own healing journey, the insights I’ve gained, and the incredible transformation that’s possible through taking full responsibility of your own health.
You can also check out the other videos on my YouTube channel, where I go deep into various aspects of health.