Thursday, 24 July 2014

Comment Spam: Comedy Gold!

'Comment Spam': Gotta hate it. It is the bane of bloggers the world over.

For those unfamiliar with the term 'comment spam', I'd better offer a brief explanation: Most blogs, mine included, have an area at the end of each post where visitors can leave a comment. Most of the time, this allows for interesting discussion and interaction between the blogger and their audience.

However, the comments box is also abused unscrupulously by people attempting to advertise their own websites or services. Usually the comment is left anonymously and involves several lines of broken English, followed by a link to a website.

I have a filtering system in place to prevent this kind of trash appearing on my lovely blog, but for one day only, I just thought I'd share some of the funny and downright weird examples of comment spam that I have had to wade through during my time as a blogger.

If, like me, you have a bit of a surreal sense of humour, these should raise a giggle. Each of the comments below was followed by a link to a website, which I have deleted. I don't want to give these morons free advertising space:

This holiday season is the father of applied psychology 1863 for a reminder not all of them are equally good.

Eh?

Now I am going away to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming again to read additional news.

By all means come back after breakfast, but don't bother posting any more links to your dodgy website.

Hi there dear are you actually visiting this site daily if so you will obtain fastidious knowledge.

Whilst the concept of "Fastidious knowledge" sounds appealing, your website doesn't.

Why not promote a local business by using a nearby man and van to move heavy packing cases?

Because this is a blog about skin problems, not moving house.

Who might have wondered if Big Band in Bolton would be on our minds a lot considering that I'm fairly certain a lot of folks usually perhaps do not contemplate

Nope. Big Bands in Bolton were actually the last thing on my mind at this point in time.

Yesterday, whilst I was a work, my cousin stole my iPhone and tested to see if it can survive 30 ft drop just so she can be a youtube sensation. My ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.

Yeah, thanks for sharing. I will be checking out that video. Not.

Eliminate substance cleansing solutions when vacuuming your computer gaming disks. You may be tempted to use some sort of glass cleaner. this can easily affect the disk deeper.

Potentially useful I suppose, if my disks get covered in skin flakes from my TSW...

Thank you for the good writeup. It was in fact a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you!

Um...I'm guessing English is not your first language. Thanks for the compliments but stop using my blog as advertising space. Thank you.

I hope this post has helped you guys appreciate how much trash we bloggers have to wade through and why we moderate comments and ask people to tap in those funny little codes when leaving a comment.

I will be keeping this blog a spam free zone, but I hope that I raised a smile sharing some of these weird posts with you all!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Skin Update: 32 Months and Still Healed!

I thought I'd better get round to doing an update because fellow-blogger Wynter was asking how my skin was doing and I promised I'd post photos!

Summer is still being kind to my skin and I've even developed a slight tan on my arms! The natural oils have returned and I don't need to moisturise much at all.

So..here are the photos:



I post photos of my face, arm and neck because these were real problem areas for me in the past and took a long time to heal. No complaints now though. I'm back to my pale and pasty self!

My thoughts and best wishes go to all those going through steroid withdrawals and I hope my photos have encouraged you.

I will continue to post updates to let you know how my skin is doing.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

What Causes Flares?

Now that I'm in "healed mode" it is easier to look back with some clarity over my time with TSW.

One of the things I used to beat myself up over was that certain things may "cause" a flare, or that it I flared, it was because I was doing something wrong.

I realise a lot of people feel this way and therefore try and eliminate the things that they feel are causing the flare. The popular ones on the forum right now are sugar and stress. People think if they eliminate sugar/stress from their lives, they won't flare.

The fact is, that in retrospect, although I believed this when I was going through TSW, I now see that it is a lot lore simple than that.

Flares happen.

If you are in TSW, flares would happen, even if you ate a super healthy diet and spent every day relaxing on a lounger, served by an army of good-looking servants who appealed to your every whim.

Flares would still happen because they are a part of TSW.

I use the analogy of a wave. If a wave is coming. You can't stop the wave. Nothing you did caused the wave. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself to ride the wave. The wave will stop, another will come. You have no control over it.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the forum, which sums up exactly how I feel about this subject:

Coffee causes flares, wine causes flares, chocolate causes flares. And on and on.

Here is what I've learned in 18 months:

If you're going to flare, everything causes a flare. If you're not in a flare, nothing causes a flare.

Right now, for example, I am in a calm period. I drink a beer or two. (I don't get drunk as that limits consciousness, but that's neither here nor there.)

I drink beet juice (which vasodilates blood vessels). I drink coffee. No flares.

When in a flare, simply drinking water "caused" me to flare.

If everything causes you to flare, then nothing caused your flare.

Some people claim X cause them to flare. Here's something to ask yourself (or them).

"If you claim that coffee causes a flare, why?"

"Because I flared badly after drinking coffee."

"Does this mean when you eliminated coffee [or whatever the offending item was] that you never flared badly?"

"No."

"If you flared when not drinking coffee, how can you know that coffee causes a flare?"


"I just do!"

No, that is nonsensical thinking. It's a very common mistake in human thinking called a fundamental attribution error:

If you still flare when you've eliminated the causes of your flare, then what you think is causing a flare is not in fact causing it.

Makes sense logically, doesn't it?

But the mind plays tricks on people.

Over the past 18 months I've seen people claim that all sorts of things caused their flares.

Those same people then talk about how they are flaring.

But if you discovered the causes of your flares, how are you still flaring?

Again, logically we all know the answer.

Emotionally, it's harder to accept that we are not in control of this process.


I understand the need to try and create order out of the chaos, or apply rules and logic to the situation, but it seems that TSW breaks all of the rules. It is heartbreaking sometimes for me to see people trying different methods to eliminate the "cause" of their flares and then wonder why they are still flaring.

Acceptance is hard, but the moment we let go and accept that flares are part and parcel of the healing process, the easier it is to deal with.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday, 2 June 2014

Look at my Amazing HEALED SKIN photos!

OK people...this is the moment you have been waiting for...the big reveal!

After 30 months off topical steroids I can finally reveal my new, lovely skin.

I hope these pictures give hope to everyone out there going through TSW.

The photos are in pairs: The one at the top shows what my skin was like before and the one underneath shows what it is like today.


TSW BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
 



 
Leg before and after.
 
Hand Before and After
Arm before and after
 

Neck Before and After
 
 Face Before and After
 
I'm Now White-Not Red!
 
Not long ago, I predicted that my skin would heal in the summer and it has. The sunshine has done me good. It seems appropriate to be posting these photos just as summer starts.
 
 
I know that people worry that certain things may delay their healing, or stop them healing altogether and I'd like to take this opportunity to bust some myths:

Myth 1: Moisturisers Stop You Healing

I have found this to be a myth. I have used moisturisers throughout my TSW and found them incredibly useful. People have issues when they have reactions to ingredients in certain moisturisers and may wish to stop for that reason, but those who DO moisturise shouldn't feel guilty about it or worry that they won't heal.

I have seen people write on blogs that you will not heal if you use moisturiser. Well I am healed and I know lots of others that have too. The choice to moisturise or not is a personal one and one group should not slate another for their personal choice.

Myth 2: You Won't Heal if you Eat Junk

Again, this is another guilt thing. We all KNOW that healthy food=healthy bodies but I have seen people put themselves through some weird elimination diets during TSW, most of which are probably unnecessary unless genuine allergies are suspected.

I haven't denied myself anything during TSW. I have had alcohol in moderation, tea, coffee, chocolate, sugary food, tomatoes and spicy food. And I still healed.

Eating junk IS bad for you, but it is unlikely to affect your TSW unless you have an actual allergy to a certain food.

Myth 3: You Won't Heal if you Use a Steroid Inhaler

I consider this a PARTIAL myth. I used a steroid inhaler throughout my TSW as I couldn't breathe without it and I still healed.

HOWEVER: Some individuals, particularly children may have addiction symptoms from steroid inhalers. One parent on the Itsan forum pointed out that her child has TSW because she used, not topical steroids, but inhaled steroids and is going through the same symptoms as TSW.

So I offer a word of caution with this myth. Yes, I healed despite using a steroid inhaler, but there are some susceptible individuals who may react badly to steroid inhalers. It would be a good idea to discuss alternatives with a doctor, but if steroids are the only option, try the lowest dose you can manage and always rinse with water after inhaling.

I hope my pictures have given some encouragement. And when we say on ITSAN that "You Will Heal", it is true!


Friday, 30 May 2014

Steroid Creams Can Cause Cataracts

I will begin with a question for those of you who have used steroid cream at any point in your life.

When your doctor prescribed the cream, did he/she warn you of the risk of cataracts?

In my case, the answer is a definite NO. I have been prescribed steroid creams in varying strengths ever since childhood and my doctors dutifully filled our repeat after repeat prescription.

No warnings about eye problems, ever. I would have remembered.

It was with sadness and shock that I received a text message earlier this week from a very dear skin friend who was beside herself with worry. Her young teenage daughter, who has used steroid creams most of her life and is now going through TSW, has been diagnosed with a cataract in her eye and now needs to have eye surgery.

This is a young teenage girl for goodness sake! I always though cataracts were an "old persons" thing.

I did some further research and was amazed at what I found. Page upon page of evidence linking topical steroid use with cataracts. Not just topical steroids either; cataracts can be caused by oral or nasal steroids too, like that lovely inhaler I use for my asthma...

Check out these links for more information:

Steroid-Induced cataract study
Case report of two children. Cataract caused by hydrocortisone on face.
Steroids cause cataracts AND glaucoma
Iatrogenic Cataracts

In an interesting quote from the last article on the list:

"I would say 95 percent of the cases of iatrogenic cataracts that I see are caused by the overuse of topical steroids. Intraoperative and systemic steroids are also a problem,” Dr. Olson said."

Goodness me. 95% is a high number.

I would urge everyone who has every used steroid creams on the face to go and get their eyes checked out. You are at risk of glaucoma and cataracts.

I have been lucky in that my eyes are ok, although I have suffered a lot of discharge since going through TSW, which I believe is related to the dilated blood vessels in my eyes. I also suffered from blurred vision when I first quit steroids.

Dr Fukaya, and expert on steroid addiction, says:

You don’t need to visit to any dermatologist including me, but you should visit to an ophthalmologist periodically.” That was my habitual saying to patients with atopic dermatitis.

I hope my skin friend is OK and makes a full recovery from her surgery, but this should never happen. For a child to suffer this way because of a side-effect of a MEDICINE is awful.

First do no harm.....

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Template Letter for Doctors and Dermatologists

One of our amazing Itsan forumites has put together this sample letter to send out to dermatologists. You could print out the letter as it is, or tweak it to fit your own circumstances and experiences. Bloggers could also add blog links or progress photos. The letter could be sent normally, or cut and pasted into an email. Please readers, I get about 700 hits a day on this blog. If every person reading this sent just one of these to a local doctor, we could make a real impact!

Thanks so much to the "Red Skin Warrior" who put many hours of hard work into writing this.

Don't forget to add these links at the end of the letter, or embed them in the text if emailing:

Dr. Marvin Rapaport's video --

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JNVj6eAHDs


ITSAN forum link --

http://forum.itsan.org/index.php?action=forum




                                   ****URGENT INFORMATION****

Dear Dermatologist, please read this letter.

I am a sufferer of what's known as "topical steroid addiction" and am now going through withdrawal from it. There are many of us on the ITSAN board ("International Topical Steroid Addiction Network") who are trying to cope with the terrible after-effects of topical steroid use from such creams as Hydrocortisone OTC, Triamcinolone Acetonide, Clobetasol, etc.

Dr. Marvin Rapaport, a Dermatologist and Clinical Professor at UCLA, who also has a private practice, discovered a long time ago that eczema patients can become addicted to topical steroids in as little as 6 weeks, with horrendous results. Respected Dermatologist Researcher, Dr. Albert Kligman, has written many peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic of topical steroid addiction. The new president of the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Mark Lebwohl, co-authored a journal article on Corticosteroid Addiction  --http://www.itsan.org/uploads/2Rapaport_Lebwohl_Corticosteroid_Addiction_and_Withdrawal_in_the_Atopic_Red_Burning_Skin_Syndrome.PDF

Our history goes like this: We applied the topical steroid and, the more we applied it, the more our eczema became uncontrollable and very widespread and the less effective it became. I went from having one tiny spot to it being all over my entire body! Normal eczema itches, but it doesn't burn as our skin does, as Dr. Rapaport stated in his video (below). The ITSAN board, which Dr. Rapaport founded, is filled with people with similar stories.

When the person tries to stop using the steroid creams, it gets increasingly worse. In many people, the skin turns bright-red over much of their body, with the characteristic "red sleeves" on their arms, which Dr. Rapaport describes. The skin burns and many suffer severe facial swelling and edema in their arms and legs. Some people's eyes even swell shut! One person on the board had such pain and swelling in their legs, they couldn't walk and literally crawled around their apartment. Our skin itches intensely, so badly many cannot sleep, cannot engage in any activities and even become housebound. Their skin oozes fluid, to the point some cannot cope, they cannot wear clothes, must quit their jobs, and are even rendered bedridden with the debilitating symptoms.

The posts on ITSAN are truly heartbreaking, particularly in people who are long-time users of steroids and the little children. This horrible withdrawal stage can last from approximately 6 months to 3 years, or even longer than that in individuals who have used the steroids for many years.

Dr. Rapaport has treated about 2,000 patients with topical steroid addiction and helped them go through the difficult withdrawal process. ALL have recovered, once they quit all steroids "cold turkey", as he advises. All of them! They did not, in fact, have "eczema" (after the initial outbreak) -- they were experiencing a reaction to the topical steroids. The treatment itself was causing the spreading, worsening flare!

Countless people are suffering from this affliction needlessly. I urge you to watch Dr. Rapaport's short video, carefully consider this information, and re-think the way you prescribe steroids, be it creams, shots or oral tablets. Even infants are being prescribed steroids for cradle cap! One baby went from having cradle cap to severe eczema. Also, please check out the ITSAN website below for more information. ITSAN.org was founded in February of 2012 and has had over 2,000 members in our forum, with new ones arriving daily.

Topical steriods are dangerous, if used too long. I did not even give a comprehensive list of the health issues involved, i.e., it can affect your eyes. Please help us spread awareness and inform other dermatologists of this travesty. This needless suffering needs to stop now!

Thank you for your consideration.

A "Red-Skin Warrior" (add real name here!)