First of all, no single magic cream is going solve our fiery eczema problems. Not even if it is named Egyptian Magic Cream (which I love for Lil Pea’s itchy, raw skin, by the way).
Topical Steroid Withdrawal, also known as Red Skin Syndrome and Topical Steroid Addiction, is real. Most mainstream doctors don’t believe this, but the National Eczema Association in America recently formed task force to conduct a scientific study published in 2015. It shows up as red hot itchy skin – weepy and raw or dry and scaly.
Burning, stinging, and bright red skin are the typical features of topical steroid overuse and withdrawal. The signs and symptoms occur within days to weeks after TCS discontinuation. – National Eczema Association
What works for Lil Pea may not work for you – because your skin is different, your diet is different, your allergies are different, and the way you react to foods and products is different.
Even the products that used to work for him during the earlier stages of the flare-up may not work in later stages of the flare cycle, or so many other TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) sufferers have told me.
If you want to stop using steroids, be prepared for what is to come. It isn’t pretty, it’s really tough and painful, and it will take a long time to heal. But you will heal – slowly, but surely. Like what happened to Lil Pea, who had red, raw, weepy skin or the Red Skin Syndrome.
Here are some of the products which helped him, including moisturisers, ointments, and supplements.
The bottom-line is this: Healing the gut is more important than any cream we can apply. Creams and ointments are like band-aids, they soothe the itch, calm the redness, let you sleep better, or even disinfect. In some cases, some applications are necessary to help treat staph infections, for example.
But most importantly, you have to heal the root cause – which is the immunity system. It resides in the gut; and research shows that eczema has links to leaky gut syndrome (see this article with references to medical research). Leaky gut is more serious than the funny name it has, by the way.
For ointments, moisturisers and creams. I’ve tried SO MANY products, scrambling to buy this and that and spending a fortune to find creams and ointments that are:
- Highly moisturising
- Not stinging to skin
And I had to figure out what cream or ointment was suitable at different stages of the flare-up, or for a different ailment. It’s important to moisturise well and often, 5-8 times a day even, to help re-create the natural skin barrier that is sorely lacking in eczema patients’ skin. Dry skin can also lead to a itching and flare-up. Little wonder they call eczema the “itch that scratches” – the itching is actually activated by scratching. Once you start scratching, you can’t stop, and the flare-up gets worse.
Lotion, cream, ointment – in order of long-lasting moisturising, lotion is the least because it’s water-based. But ointments or balms tend to be occlusive, which could make it really hot and unbreathable for the skin (and make the flare-up worse), so watch out for that, especially if you live in conditions similar to the tropical climate of Singapore.
We were at our wits’ end, didn’t know what to do, and could only pray that God would heal our son. And God is good. I hope this guide will help you or your child. Press on, healing will come!
Moogoo Eczema and Psoriasis Cream
Also known as Moogoo Irritable Skin Balm in retail shops in Singapore. I bought it online from Moogoo Australia, because it’s cheaper even with shipping thrown in.
The cream has the consistency of a lotion, and feels cool when applied on skin. It doesn’t sting even raw, weepy wounds. At least, not for Lil Pea, who was vocal enough to tell me every time a particular cream or lotion hurt his raw skin.
After I wrote to Moogoo Australia, they explained to me that their Eczema cream worked more as a soothing balm than a moisturiser. They recommended this as the first layer on the skin, followed by a thicker cream like their MSM Soothing Cream.
Effects: Helps with itch, calms irritated skin, does not sting, light consistency.
MSM Soothing Cream
Although this cream came highly recommended by other TSW sufferers in the Facebook group which I’m part of, it didn’t quite work for Lil Pea.
In fact, he told me that it stung his raw skin. But he was fine with this cream after his skin had healed.
Which goes to show, what works for someone else may not work for you. What did not used to work for you could likely work well in the future. So don’t rule out anything.
According to Moogoo Australia, this is supposed to be applied as a second layer on top of their Eczema cream. This has a really thick consistency, and the moisturising power lasts well.
Effects: Stings raw skin, helps with skin barrier, very moisturising, thick consistency
Moogoo Nappy Balm
If the skin is raw and weepy, and oozing, the first step is to dry up the ooze first. This nappy balm has high zinc oxide (15%). Now, it seems strange to use diaper cream for face and body, but this nappy balm is key to healing and drying up wet wounds during the weepy phase.
Read this study done on healing wounds using topical zinc. When Lil Pea was going through the oozy phase, his skin was really red and hot and itchy, plus the open wounds hurt. This cream cools down the hot skin. Lil Pea really liked it whenever I put this on him, followed by calendula balm or Egyptian magic cream.
I follow a rule of thumb – if the wounds get too wet and oozy, I don’t moisturise those parts. Instead, I slather on this diaper balm instead, to dry it up. The skin turns flaky (which is fine and part of healing). When the oozing is gone, you have to moisturise very well again.
Effects: Dries up oozy skin, cools and soothes down hot skin, speeds up healing
Egyptian Magic Cream
Pity about the name. For people who are unfamiliar with this, it sounds like snake oil or a Hogwarts potion. But hey, Hollywood actress Kate Hudson says it’s her go-to skincare!
When Lil Pea’s dad first saw the jar’s label, he made a sound that seemed something inbetween a snort and a “tch”.
But don’t diss this cream. It works wonders. It’s very moisturising and lasts long, and has the consistency of an ointment. But it doesn’t feel gluggy or occlusive, and is absorbed well into the skin (yup I used it on my face as well). And most importantly, it does not sting.
It helped Lil Pea with itching, and I would slather it on even parts that had open wounds because it has antibacterial properties. When he has this cream on, I noticed that he scratched less.
When it’s time for moisturising, Lil Pea will point to say approvingly, “This! This!”
The little boy recognises immediately the creams that sting his skin and says “Noooooo! Don’t want!” if I even made a move towards that tube or bottle.
Effects: Anti-itch, anti-bacterial, emollient, does not sting raw skin, absorbed well, highly moisturising, ointment consistency
Four Cow Farm Calendula Remedy
I love the way this balm simply melts like an oil as I rub it between my hands, just before I apply it onto Lil Pea’s skin.
It’s ultra-moisturising, and smells pleasantly of calendula flowers – it has the healing flower’s signature golden yellow hue, too.
Needless to say, it is one of my favourites right alongside Egyptian Magic Cream.
In the night, before tucking him to bed, this goes onto his skin all over, so that the air-conditioning doesn’t dry out his skin.
This balm also serves to calm down his irritated skin.
Since it’s so very moisturising, this works very well on skin that has become very dry and flaky.
When it’s time for moisturising, Lil Pea will also point to this and say approvingly, “This! This!”
See my other post for more on Four Cow Farm’s products and to score a promo code for your purchase!
Effects: Does not sting raw skin, absorbed very well, ultra-moisturising, emollient, ointment consistency that melts into skin
Madre Magic Cream
Its ingredient list is very similar to Egyptian Magic Cream’s. In fact, on US online store iHerb.com, Madre Magic has replaced Egyptian Magic Cream.
It was with some trepidation that I tried Madre Magic on Lil Pea, after much success with the tried-and-tested Egyptian Magic Cream.
I’m glad to report that it did no ill harm to Lil Pea, in fact, it went very well.
The consistency of Madre Magic is softer than Egyptian Magic’s balm, and it is well absorbed too. In fact, it one-ups Egyptian Magic Cream with its inclusion of manuka honey. That, and Madre’s olive oil and beeswax are organic.
Effects: Very moisturising, does not sting, emollient, antibacterial, anti-itch, well-absorbed
Ingredients: Olive (Olea europaea) Fruit Oil*, Beeswax (cera alba)*, New Zealand Manuka Honey, Bee Pollen Extract, Royal Jelly, Bee Propolis Extract, Glycerin (Plant-Derived), Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopherol (Non-GMO).
*Certified Organic Ingredient
Rooibos or African red bush tea is highly anti-inflammatory. High in quercetin, this helps quells flare-ups, reduce itch, and cool down hot skin. Use it as a bath soak, bottle it in a spray to mist on skin, or make a cool compress with a face towel and leave on skin. Make sure bath water is just lukewarm, never hot. Hot water makes eczema skin flare up worse.
Put a few bags of rooibos tea in bath (the longer the better for higher quercetin content in the water). Have a long soak. There’s no need to rinse, just towel or pat skin dry. This calmed Lil Pea’s skin a lot.
Can be used at any stage of TSW (Topical asteroid Withdrawal) or eczema – weepy, red, itchy, dry, scaly.
Effects: Does not sting, reduces itch, calms down skin, cools and soothes hot skin
Pink Himalayan sea salt bath soak
Very good for raw, weepy skin and open wounds. Reduces itch, calms down skin, and most importantly, it’s anti-bacterial. It’s important to ensure raw, open wounds don’t get infected.
Not all salts are equal. Choose a sea salt that’s high in minerals and nutrients, as the skin will absorb these transdermally, which aids in healing. I use pink Himalayan sea salt.
Start with small amounts first. I used about 1/8 cup (think baking cups) in a baby bathtub. Soak for about 10min, and rinse well. Rinse very well.
This sea salt soak will sting a little at first, but after a while, the soothing and anti-itch benefits will be felt, and it gets quite enjoyable. Can be used also as a cool compress using a face towel.
Use only during the raw, oozing phase of eczema or TSW.
Effects: Anti-bacterial, anti-itch, soothing
Jo Lauren Colloidal Oatmeal Bath Bags
This silky bath soak really worked for his itching. His red raw skin would immediately calm down to a light pink, after a good 10-15min soak.
Colloidal oatmeal, which is simply oatmeal ground into a fine powder, is known for its moisturising properties and ability to calm irritated skin. You can find it in many skincare products.
Lil Pea used Jo Lauren’s Colloidal Oatmeal Bath Bags with Organic Calendula and Chamomile.
Remember to use lukewarm or almost-cool water. Hot water will make the skin flare up and itch even more.
After his usual bath routine – all over body cleanser, then rinsing with water – he will step into his bath tub and soak it up.
I even use the little wet oatmeal satchets and gently pat it all over his face and upper torso, to get the moisturising goodness on his skin.
It feels silky and creamy to the touch; squeeze, and more of the good stuff will come out.
*I will update this section soon
Lifespace Probiotics from Australia – multi-strain probiotics