Moisturizer Withdrawal is a controversial topic among Topical Steroid Withdrawal sufferers. While Japanese dermatologists with TSW expertise believe that Moisturizer Withdrawal plays a critical role for a fast recovery; the Western approach suggests the contrary.
Moisturizer Withdrawal Approach
According to Dr. Sato, a leading Japanese doctor of TSW, moisturizers should be discontinued from the beginning of the steroid withdrawal process to speed up the recovery of the patient. He has been criticized for his harsh approach, but his effectiveness healing patients is very high.
In the last lecture on atopic dermatitis in Tokio, Dr. Sato explained that patients who have recovered well are the ones who strictly didn't moisturize during the process. Click here for more data and statistics.
On the other hand, Dr. Fukaya, another Japanese dermatologist, thinks that Moisturizer Withdrawal is not suitable for all, but it should be considered when the recovery of the patient is taking more than expected. From his viewpoint, some patients become addicted to moisturizers while others don't.
Theory Behind Moisturizer Withdrawal
The body is a self regulator in keeping homeostasis efficiently. Since moisturizers make a fake humid environment, the body receives as a message that natural hydration is not needed.
So, in order to get rid of bad skin from the usage of topical steroids, it is important to stop moisturizers to let the body recognizes that it needs to produce new stronger cells in the absence of them.
The Western Approach
Overall, most dermatologists think that moisturizers should be used deliberately on atopic patients. In fact, Dr. Rappaport, the doctor who coined the name of Red Skin Syndrome, believes TSW sufferers can heal using moisturizers.
Also, ITSAN, the network that promotes TSW awareness, recommends on its forum the usage of moisturizers while doing TSW as a comfort measure.
Our Daughter's Experience
At the beginning of the TSW process, we applied Cerave on Catherine's face and body deliberately and we also alternated with some natural oils, emollients, and poultices; coconut oil, baobab oil, calendula oil, magnesium oil, charcoal activated, you name it. Her skin looked good for the first months, but then, we saw a growing dependence on moisturizers.
After looking all the babies and kids that have healed in a short term period by stopping steroids and moisturizers in the book, "No, to Topical Steroids", written by Dr. Sato, we decided to stop moisturizers.
Definitely, I have to emphasize that the Moisturizer Withdrawal method is rough. The first two months, my daughter experienced the worst flare up ever. Her appearance was similar or even worse to the first days of TSW.
However, even though the method is "hard landing", it has been totally worth it; the strength of her skin in her arms and legs was noticeable at the end of the first month. Strong enough that now, it doesn't tear easily with scratching.
The major challenge has been to clear up her face; but, finally, after two months we are seeing progress.
Catherine's Protocol during Moisturizer Withdrawal
What to expect during Moisturizer Withdrawal (first two months):
Progress during Moisturizer Withdrawal. After almost three months her skin is getting back to normal.
Update: 4 months Moisturizer Withdrawal