Saturday 27 May 2017

4 Years TSW

Hi everyone, I feel I owe you a post and an explanation as to my whereabouts!

Can I just start with saying thank you so, so much to anyone who has asked after me, anyone who has taken the time to email me, comment or message me on other social media. I am so grateful for you all <3 For those who have gotten in touch with me who wanted answers I'm so sorry I've been unable to supply them. Life at the moment is pretty hectic.

I've been wanting to post for a long time but never quite knew what I was going to say. My 4 years TSW anniversary was May 22nd, I was looking to post then but just didn't have the time or the will. It was only really this morning when I woke up a lot earlier than anticipated that I happened to look at a message on Facebook and discovered a whole section of unfiltered messages that contained an overwhelming amount of unread messages, dating all the way back to 2012! I am so annoyed that I've only now just been alerted to them and I can only but apologise for not getting back to you. I will say as well though that I don't add people I don't know to my personal Facebook account - if you want to talk to me I'd prefer it you emailed me. Alternatively I guess I could make a Facebook group...

So anyway. How am I? How is my skin?

I'm doing really good at the moment. I've landed a full time job in the city, which means hourly commuting each way. I'm in the process of buying a house, and have been since November so you can only dare to imagine the stress that I've been under! That is actually another reason I didn't want to post yet - I was hoping I could update from the new house but hey ho - life just doesn't always follow a plan.

At current my skin is pretty good. Dry, but good. I'm still taking Ciclosporin for now but I hope I can come off eventually or even start on Dupilumab, we will see. It hasn't been plain sailing though, when I first started at my new job I had a horrible flare which was really quite embarrassing after being good for a few months and having to meet new people. It keeps coming and going but it's bearable and I also put it down to the stress that comes with the house buying! Not only has my skin been bad but I've also been experiencing other unexplained health issues as well which we're currently trying to figure out. Stress is a funny old thing.

Another thing I wanted to mention is heat - it's really hot in the UK at the moment and I'm OK. I can deal with it now. I no longer come out in a full body heat urticaria rash, I'm starting to feel more confident that that is a thing of the past and was fully related to topical steroids, but until I flare again I'm not going to say that for definite.

There are moments that have me stopping and thinking, things now that I've been taking for granted, that I couldn't even dream to do when I was in the deep grasps of TSW and it's just astounding to see how far I've come. I have a full time commuters job, I can tolerate heat, my skin no longer comes off in gigantic flakes that compare to sunburn peel, I don't have to vacuum my bed, I can take a 5-10 minute shower and be ready within an hour. I can stay at other people's houses without thinking of myself as a hindrance or worrying that my skin or routines will be an issue. I'm no longer housebound. Touch wood I've not had a skin infection or a herpeticum outbreak, in fact I can't even remember when I last had one!

The only things that are still problematic for me is the aforementioned dry skin but even then it's not really that much of an issue - it'd just be nice to have suppler skin but dry skin has always be an issue of mine since day one. I'm also not yet confident I could live with a cat but I think that could be due to lack of exposure, I only spend time with cats once every couple of months so it will be hard to build up a tolerance, but gone are the days of full body rashes and acute asthma attacks when I so much as dare to look in the direction of one. I also still suffer from dermatillomania but I feel now that my skin has cleared up there's not as many imperfections for me to pick at, but of course the tweezers still come everywhere with me! I also don't wear make up but I'm cool with it... that's the other thing, when going through such a traumatic illness you just start accepting your appearance for what it is. In my early 20s before the onslaught of TSW madness I used to wear make up every single day and when I became so ill it was a travesty, but over time you just accept that it's your face. It'll do.

And now onto the eagerly awaited awkward photos (that's the other thing, it's been so long since I've taken photos of myself I just can't haha!):

I decided to take photos in a changing room because the lighting is always different.

Ignore the scab on my chin... it was a spot but dermatillomania and that...

I woke up like dis

Awkward flabby tummy pic

So as you can see, dry but currently rash free!

Hope everyone is well and I promise not to leave it so long next time.

Also I was emailed about this giveaway to share with you all which we can use to celebrate my 4 years of being steroid free!; Win some Dermasheets for your bed worth $270!

Good luck!

Thursday 25 August 2016

39 Months TSW/ BBC Eczema Documentary

Hi guys, this blog is long overdue an update!

So what's going on with me?

Well I'm afraid to say, it isn't exactly great news. I've actually been putting off talking about it because I don't want to discourage others. But about a month ago, I began to get a really itchy face and the band around my tummy where my top had been tucked into my skirt also triggered a heat rash reaction, due to the hot weather we have been experiencing as of late.

I figured with time and patience it would disappear on it's own, as it usually does. However a month later it has instead spread all over my body; my face, neck, chest, arms, torso, legs... everywhere.

I went to a walk-in-centre and was given a weeks worth of antibiotics as we both assumed it to be an infection. They didn't even touch it. This Tuesday just past I went to the doctors and all she could offer me were steroids, emollients and an extra antihistamine because she felt it looked more like an allergic reaction. Not great. At this point I'm actually debating using oral steroids just to help clear my system but the other part of me is screaming 'NO!' because it would ruin years of hard work if I were to rebound, and also get eczema herpeticum.

I'm currently having to take time off work because it is virtually unbearable. I think part of this flare-up is due to the fact that I now no longer have time to heal, because I work a full time job and am always on the go. So having a few days off should in theory help me... but it just seems to be getting worse. The heat is not helping and I'm just a poor tired mess.

Edit: It turned out to be a washing detergent allergy!


In other news. The last time I went to see the dermatologist, back in May, she told me that they had forgotten to contact me 1.5 years ago to tell me that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D. I can't even. Sounds about right though...


On a slightly more positive note; another thing that happened that I should really have blogged about sooner was that a fellow from the BBC contacted me in regards to making a radio documentary about eczema sufferers and what we really have to go through etc. I was invited to the studio in York and nervously gave my view point. There was a lot I didn't manage to say as I tend to burble when put on the spot and probably also a lot I didn't put across properly... but if you fancy a listen it is airing on bank holiday Monday (29/08/16) at 09:00 on and later on at 18:00 on

Alternatively you can catch it via this link after 10:00am Monday morning and it will be available for 30 days.

Hope everyone else is well!


Sunday 22 May 2016

3yrs Topical Steroid Withdrawal

Hey everyone!

Today marks my 3 year milestone of ceasing the use of topical steroids and other steroidal treatments. I won't say I'm healed... not by any means. But I am able to live life comfortably again and without much disruption.

My face and neck area are still my most problematic areas but they have been since the age of about 16. They were also the areas where I used the most creams and ointments so it makes sense really for it still to be over-sensitive and quick to react to potential triggers and allergens.

I'm still on Ciclosporin but I've dropped my dosage to 250mg, down from 350mg, and though my skin hasn't completely cleared up, as it did the very first time I used it, it's still helping me on the days where I do struggle.

I also had a cold sore this past week and decided not to take as much Aciclovir as I usually do, just to test the waters and see if it would spread and turn into eczema herpeticum. Luckily my prayers were answered and it didn't spread at all from my lip. It did however take longer to heal and I kept managing to knock off the scab, but my body finally seems to be helping itself out. My vegan diet still isn't perfect and there are still refined foods in there but I am choosing more whole food options where I can.

I've also started to exercise! This was a huge problem for me for years before I even discovered TSW. I mean I've never been into exercise as I was the fat, unfit kid at school who was self conscious and didn't care for getting hot and sweaty and then having to traipse around for the rest of the day feeling disgusting... but it got to a point where my skin just couldn't handle sweat. I had heat urticaria and it would sting, burn and itch like hell if I so much as became slightly too warm. So I'm pleased to say I can now sweat and do exercise. My skin does suffer sometimes, for example when I go out for a run, the elements are not usually in my favour and I find that the wind can cause my skin to flare and I then spend the next few days with a red blotchy face. This also seems to occur when I go to the gym and I'm wondering if the cause is because I'm being exposed to other people's skin bacteria? However exercising at home then jumping straight into the shower seems to be mostly fine for me. I'm hoping to improve on my skin tolerance the more I do it.

At the beginning of this whole saga, you may or may not remember that I became extremely allergic to cats, despite having grown up with them. This allergy has now diminished drastically and I don't think it's a coincidence that the lack of steroids has helped to rebuild and repair my broken skin barrier that was making me more susceptible to allergic reactions. I'm hoping in the not so distant future that I'll be able to get a cat. More time and exposure is required though me thinks.

Another thing that has happened, that I've talked about before - 3 years ago I had reached a point where I struggled to work my part time job. I struggled to put clothing on, let alone the ability to actually leave the house! I was a complete and utter mess. In July last year I built up my hours to 30 per week. In September I had upped them to 36 and I have managed to work a full time job without a skin sick day for well over a year now. It's staggering to see just how far I have managed to come. I no longer ooze. I believe the last time I had ooze was over a year ago too and that was actually because I had an infection.

This time in 2 weeks I will be at a festival in another country that is significantly hotter in temperature. I could only have dreamed of doing that this time 3 years ago, and finally it can be a reality. I am scared that my skin will relapse but I'll arm myself with antihistamines and the like, wear cooling clothing etc. and just have a bloody good time. I do deserve it after all. I'm not camping though. I think those days of being a smelly mess out of choice are well and truly over. No, we will be living it up in a 4* hotel, so if I do relapse then I'll have comfort. It is truly wondrous though to see how far my skin has come. When the weather became hotter here in the summer I struggled so much with my urticaria but thankfully now it seems to be something of the past. I can also eat spicy food now, stand in front of the cooker with the hobs blaring, and even wear layers of clothing! Miraculous!  

I also generally have more energy - whether this is due to my vegan diet, my uptake of exercise or my body finally having a break from healing my skin, I can't say. But it's bloody good stuff. My hair has also gotten thicker. Back in January 2012 I took Methotrexate which resulted in the loss of my already fine hair which I put down to having scalp eczema. Right now it is the thickest it has been for a long time, though of course my hair has never been massively thick, but I'm no longer embarrassed for having the skinniest pony tail in the world.

I can't remember when I last had to hoover my bed. I used to have to hoover it every single day, multiple times a day, as well as lay on towels to stop the ooze from staining my bed sheets; soak off dried oozy tissues that had hardened onto my face; constantly endure the metallic and pungent rotting aroma of the ooze; the sleepless nights; running a bath at 3am and spending the next 6hrs topping up the water and falling asleep in it just to get some respite... I'm so glad those days are behind me.

Some photographs from my skin hell journey over these past years:


Weird triangle-nose face rash

Weird rash on thigh

Bruising on thigh from over-scratching

Same as 1st image but a different day


Allergic reaction to staying round mum's with the cats

All greased up with my arms covered to stop scratching and ooze, and red rashes on thighs

A mixture of TSW/ MRSA/ Elephant skin

Swollen eye

During MRSA/ TSW period

The result of bad skin and skin picking compulsion (dermatillomania)


Eczema herpeticum and Cellulitis of the eye

Red sleeve 



Leg sleeve

Development of Pompholyx

Tummy rash

Skin flakes

More flakes

Tight, hardened ooze and raw open wounds

Thigh rash

The tissue nightmare of constant ooze

Elephant skin

2014 - Thin hair

I have faith that my skin will get ever stronger. I fully accept that it will take years and that I may never truly heal because of the extensive damage that I have bestowed upon my skin, thanks to doctors and dermatologists who have misdirected me in terms of usage safety, but I will get there.

Hope everyone else isn't suffering too much. Happy healing!