girl healing in the sun

Healing Naturally vs Topical Steroids

You don’t need to suffer through topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). There are hundreds of people in the Dr. Aron Facebook group who tried TSW first. It didn’t work and they were later cured of it on the Aron Regime. RSS doesn’t exist when using topical steroids (TS) as Dr. Aron prescribes. TSW groups attempt to convince everyone they need to suffer and it’s the only way to heal. They post inspirational suffering quotes and glorify the entire process of suffering. It’s unnecessary. There are hundreds of blogs and posts from people who were in the TSW groups first.. with full RSS symptoms, red sleeves, burning, hot skin immediately following cessation of steroids, etc.  Not a single person has RSS symptoms now. I personally believe it’s a completely made up condition (some, such as the NEA call it highly unlikely but possible)  – and I base this on research as well as personal experience. Very few doctors or health “professionals” think steroid addiction is real and in promoting it, they don’t consider the alternative. I’m uncertain as to why anyone would want to trust a doctor who refuses to consider all possibilities and the one doctor who ardently preaches this seems to have a motive all his own. It is unfortunate.

Why do all Dr. Aron patients (in a group of nearly 10,000 people – many of which believed they too had RSS before treatment) get cured of RSS symptoms? Steroids are not the enemy. They are being prescribed wrong conventionally and this leads to inflammation being reduced (as TS are supposed to do) and the bacterial element being more easily spread. This creates the “red” that is so common post TS treatment, when the inflammation returns. We see it on a daily basis in the Dr. Aron group – and we see it cured and gone on a daily basis, with only the underlying eczema left (of which there is no cure but is very easily manageable at this point). I have witnessed this first hand with a patient who became worse under conventional steroid usage and thrived under the care of Dr. Aron. He rarely has to use anything on his skin anymore. I completely understand why TSW advocates believe TS are the problem, as the role of bacteria in eczema wasn’t fully understood at the time the skin appeared to be getting worse after using TS, so a couple doctors took their best guess. They just happen to be wrong and they refuse to see what is happening right in front of them. One doctor in particular issued a lot of research papers before the Aron Regime became popularized so of course, he stands to look the fool (in his mind) if he changes his opinion. He’s more keen on feeling like a hero and I understand that.

I understand the desire to “heal naturally” and as an adult, I commend you on your choice if you can achieve that. The promise of this is alluring and it sounds like the healthiest version of you but you should know that some people simply cannot heal naturally – and that in the case of children, who are still developing in so many ways, there are often many more risks to not using prescribed medications. Sometimes, medicine is simply the best options, despite the many blogger “experts” who try and warn you otherwise.

There are many different skin types. There are people over 10 years in to TSW, believing they are addicted and suffering for no reason all of this time because of misinformation being spread by a single doctor who simply based his conclusions (and his beliefs still today) on what he saw when prescribing TS conventionally. There are kids I’ve seen subjected to TSW for 3 and 4 years (and still going) despite early claims that it was supposed to last only a fraction of time as was the TS use. What happened to those percentages? Why are so many kids not healing and being forced to suffer so long? Some kids have been in TSW twice as long as they used TS. That’s absurd. Some people will suffer the rest of their lives for this belief that is nothing more than propaganda. In economics, it’s called the Sunk Cost Fallacy and it’s what keeps people continuing with TSW, despite enduring constant pain and having no quality of life. Consider the emotional/social impact of TSW on a child and consider the physical processes that are impeded by allowing the amount of suffering that has become acceptable as part of the TSW culture. TSW groups are full or horror stories on a daily basis and they become the norm. People get so used to seeing those stories of suffering that they accept the associated pain as “part of the healing process”. They have created a culture where pain and suffering are glorified.

Yes, some people will heal naturally. It is the nature of skin that in time, it will heal for many people – but it is never with all. When people see these healing stories from others going through TSW, they get excited and offer it as proof that TSW works but quite simply, correlation does not imply causation. That’s rarely considered in the groups and should always be. These healing stories spurn people on but this in no way means the next person will see the same results. Quite factually, there are far less people being healed in TSW groups that reports of being healed.  “Stay the course” is all that is offered.

Some people need topical steroids to treat eczema. When prescribed and used correctly (as with the the Aron Regime), they are perfectly safe and highly effective. There are thousands of people using TS in the Dr. Aron group.  There has never been a single reported side-effect of TS usage on the Aron Regime. Remarkable. Clearly, TS aren’t the devils they are made out to be. Roll the dice and cross your fingers if you’re going to subject you or a loved one to TSW – or simply don’t believe the hype. Understand that “healing naturally” doesn’t guarantee healing. In a Risk vs Benefit analysis (that is fairly evaluated), Dr. Aron wins far more often. There is much to be said for quality of life – especially when it comes to a child suffering with a debilitative condition and in need of relief.

9 months of treatment by Dr. Aron

It’s Probably Not Red Skin Syndrome

There’s a distinct difference in red skin (RS) vs red skin syndrome (RSS), the former being an actual result of improper steroid use as defined by medical doctors and the latter, largely a phobia born of ignorance and propagated by self-diagnosed bloggers. It’s most often described as the red skin that appears after using a round of steroids. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this description given by TSW advocates on different Facebook groups for eczema. Sadly, this one simple misunderstanding is what seems to have led to the recent phenomenon of enduring TSW (topical steroid withdrawal) and causing much unnecessary suffering.

Dr. Aron wrote the following in regards to TS (topical steroids) and defining TSW:

There has been much discussion about the issue of TSW so I would like to shed some light on the matter. In patients where topical steroids ( TS ) have failed to provide a solution to the AE , there are many, it is the inappropriate use of these products that cast them into disrepute , not the TSs themselves. Potent steroids for short periods of time followed by reintroduction after the inevitable rebound of the AE is not a good treatment approach. Mild, dilute TSs for long periods of time is a much better option but this is a subject for a future post.

Now to the nub of the issue. Whatever regimen of treatment is advised , unless the bacterial infective element of the AE is treated effectively, the therapy will fail sooner or later and it this repetitive failure which leads to parents giving up on TSs. However, researchers have published an article in the respected journal Nature ( November 2013, Google alpha toxin staphyloccoccus in atopic dermatitis ) in which they note, inter alia, that 90% of patients with AE have staph infection. Yes 90 % ! These bacteria secrete a toxin ( poison ) which damage the cells relating to itching and burning and therefore it is essential to eliminate these bacteria . How best to achieve this will also be the subject of another post.

There is a doctor in America who advocates TSW as a treatment of choice, he notes on his website that .. it may take, weeks, months or years … for the eczema to subside, he takes no cognisance of the issue of secondary infection and thus is, in essence, is condemning the patients/parents who in desperation follow his line of reasoning to weeks,months or years of chronically infected skin with the attendant implications which all who read this post will be well aware. I have the greatest sympathy for followers of TSW but there is a better way .

The short of this it that Dr. Aron is acknowledging the inappropriate prescription that is standard for eczema (high doses of steroids for a short period) and pointing out that the resulting red skin is exactly what is to be expected. This isn’t a “steroid addiction” as so many have been led to believe. This is the logical outcome.

Dr. Aron’s 30+ years of expertise and treating eczema aside, those who have chosen to use the Aron Regime have the advantage of additional insight into this issue. The vast majority have all suffered with what TSW advocates have coined Topical Steroid Addiction or Red Skin Syndrome. Yes, our children (in most cases) all received topical steroid prescriptions prior to Dr. Aron and we all experienced rebound. On Dr. Aron’s Facebook Discussion page, we’ve seen children with red, flaming, oozing and leathery skin. We’ve seen bright red sleeves and children who were hot red from head to toe – almost always worse after quitting a round of prescribed steroids. We’ve witnessed this in infants, toddlers and even adults. We’ve seen it hundreds of times since the Facebook group formed in early 2014. In almost every case (and as an active admin in the group, I don’t personally recall any contrary to this), the red skin has never been an issue when the skin is treated properly, with topical steroids, as prescribed by Dr. Aron. It goes away.

If you’ve bought into the Topical Steroid Addiction hype for any amount of time, this is where you should be scratching your head asking how this is possible? It’s only possible, of course, if the diagnosis of red skin syndrome is most often wrong – and it is.

Many of the Dr. Aron Facebook members have put their kids through the emotional and physical toil of TSW before finding Dr. Aron. They’ve seen their children suffer months and years for a condition they never even had, before trying Dr. Aron and seeing the itch and suffering of eczema go away in days (in most cases). Indeed, Dr. Aron’s patients have earned their optimism whereas none of the Dr. Aron skeptics have earned their skepticism.

This has all led to a better understanding of what Red Skin Syndrome truly is and it’s something that the majority of all skin doctors have been telling us all for a long time – a condition that is possible by an enormous amount of inappropriately prescribed, high-potency steroids being used on the skin for many years but unlikely to be found in most all adults having used topical steroids and even more of an anomaly in children. If we are to use the sample size of patients that have come to be treated under Dr. Aron by way of Facebook (several hundred), a case could be made that nearly every case of self-diagnosed red skin syndrome is an incorrect diagnosis. That’s frightening as there are a great number of babies and children being forced to endure the hardships and high risks of TSW because of advice their parents found on the internet.

It’s worth mentioning that most parents that have come to adopt the philosophies of Dr. Aron have done so hesitantly. They’ve heard so many stories about the horrors of steroid addiction that they are very slow to accept the facts as Dr. Aron presents them. Many are still expressing doubt when they start treatment under Dr. Aron – often doing so out of the sheer desperation that parents of children with severe eczema often feel. It is in seeing the results for themselves and letting go of their former beliefs, that these parents (myself included) finally come to fully understand the realities of TSA and the horrors of TSW.

In a recent Facebook post, one group member describes her experience in using and coming to understand Dr. Aron’s Regime:

From all that I’ve read (I’ve been in this group since its inception), from what Dr. Aron has told me himself, and from my own personal experience with my two children, there is no rebound. The skin is never in the state that it was before.
I think what makes the difference between Dr. Aron and TSW is that Dr. Aron fixes the skin barrier almost immediately while TSW waits for the body to do this on its own, which is a huge ask and is so variable from person to person. He stops the itch, and so stops a number of knock-on effects of the itch, including the constant scratching, which further infects and inflames already broken skin, the lack of sleep, which has been proven in study after study to have a huge impact on healing, growth, development, and immunity, and the stress, the hormonal effects of which are not always immediately visible to the naked eye but nevertheless have a massive impact on a body’s functioning, including immunity, inflammation, and healing. He also calms the inflammation and nixes the incessant trigger of natural skin bacteria, which is not a problem for non-eczematous skin but a major irritant for us/our kids.
So he achieves what TSW aims for but much, much quicker and with no suffering. And I think we have to be frank about what TSW claims to be able to do in terms of giving people perfect skin and a steroid free life. I did a ton of research on TSW before I decided to go with Dr. Aron, and I was hard pressed to find even half of the cases where they had perfect skin ALL THE TIME and were steroid free. Perfect skin most of the time, sure, occasionally (though I must say, these seemed few and far between–the odd very lucky case that had got through ‘the process’ in under a year and could boast skin without a single flaw) but ALL the time? I can think of one case I read where the little girl had gone through TSW in about 9 months and didn’t have any eczema after that. Many would say that once her skin had healed, the predisposition for eczema had gone into remission and so that was why she didn’t have any flares. But she was about 6 or 7 (the age at which most docs say kids will usually ‘outgrow’ eczema)–to be totally sure that TSW has delivered on its ultimate promise of clear skin for life with no steroids, we need to wait six or seven years for her to go through puberty, or another dozen to see how pregnancy affects her.
My point is, TSW has not been happening for long enough for ANYONE to claim that it cures TSA and underlying eczema and guarantees people normal skin forever. What I see, from the ‘success’ stories I’ve encountered, is that SOME people will eventually achieve the clear skin, but they will still ‘flare’, however far and few between these flares become, or have patches of eczema that they just live with without treating. This is no different to what Dr. Aron achieves in the long term for pretty much ALL of his patients, except that the flares that occur with his patients following treatment are nothing like the horror of the TSW flares, and he recommends treating them briefly with steroid because, in actual fact, he has proven steroids aren’t the scary devils that so many believe them to be. When used effectively, pretty much anyone, including those who have previously been in TSW, can respond well and taper down.
And for some in this very group, in spite of its youth, (can’t comment on the old timers as there may well be many more), Dr A has brought them to exactly that end that TSW promises: clear skin and no creams.
Doing this treatment requires a major shift in thinking if you have a phobia of steroids, however that phobia came about (experience, hearing stories of others’ experiences, extremely poor treatment from medical professionals in the past, etc). It required a massive leap of faith for me, especially considering this group didn’t exist when I gave it a go. And it has taken months for me to relax and really believe that we were never going back to square one. But we aren’t. After years of rebound, increasing potency of steroids, spreading eczema and hopelessness, my children have completely clear skin, have tapered down their doses from 5x/day to once every 5 days for my eldest and once every 3 days for my youngest. On the rare occasions that they do flare, they calm down quickly and are straight back to their maintenance routine. I would bet good money my eldest at the very least will be off the creams all together after this winter. Nothing short of miraculous. It is the real deal. Really.

This sums up my feelings to a tee. I firmly believe that Dr. Aron just gets people to the same place that TSW gets them in days vs months or years. My own son was once suffering from the symptoms of RSS – red, oozing skin which always presented itself in the worst manner after a bout of steroids. Today, his flares are even better than the first 2 years of his life when my wife and I didn’t use any steroids at all. They’re like small rashes now, that he is barely bothered by, and they only appear once every couple months or longer.

The below video was the actual video I sent to Dr. Aron in October of 2013, when he requested pictures of my son for an online consultation. This flare was just a few days after we had stopped using a steroid – what many would call RSS (and what many did when I was posting to several different forums asking for advice) but what Dr. Aron informed me was grossly infected skin I needed to address immediately as to avoid further complications. Had I gone by the definition of Red Skin Syndrome, as it’s most often described by various internet sites today, there would have been no disputing that my son had RSS – as steroids always worked to clear the skin but as soon as we discontinued their use, the skin turned red while burning, itching and swelling almost immediately. Thankfully, I demanded more than an internet description for a diagnosis of RSS and such was not a diagnosis my son’s dermatologist was willing to give.

For those who do reach the end of TSW, many report small flares that are very easy to maintain – same as my son. Some (though it seems few) report a complete remission of eczema – just as there are few people using Dr. Aron’s regime that can claim this — because neither method is curing the eczema. Both get it to the same place and then there are those statistical cases where people truly outgrow it, as has always been documented with eczema.

9 months of treatment by Dr. Aron

After 9 months of treatment by Dr. Aron

90% of my son’s condition was made better in the first week of treatment with Dr. Aron – using topical steroids, despite the fact that the previous round of stopping topical steroids was what caused him to flare so badly.  As Dr. Aron explained above, it’s not the topical steroids causing the red skin problem – it’s stopping the steroids all at once, rather that’s due to irresponsible prescription (the case with my son) or application.

If you have previously bought into the belief system of TSA, I would challenge you to consider how you came about that diagnosis? Most tend self-diagnose on the same day they read about TSA and are unwilling to consider any other opinion that is contrary to TSW at that point. The very nature of the TSW ‘treatment’ (or lack thereof) requires the ‘patient’ to view all steroids in a negative light – but also dermatologists, doctors, and anyone who expresses a belief contrary to those held by TSW advocates as untrustworthy. The primary site for TSW information (as well as the TSW Facebook groups) censors and boots members that express an opposing view. What is there to fear if the truth is so indisputable? In Dr. Aron’s Facebook group, by contrast, all questions are welcomed – even on the topic of TSW/TSA.

What if the information you’ve been hearing is simply wrong? Why are there so few doctors and dermatologists writing about TSW and choosing to recommend topical steroids instead? What does your doctor, dermatologist or GP say? TSW advocates are generally in strong opposition to what most doctors believe and just maybe – that should be a red flag in itself?

I truly believe that Dr. Aron’s regime provides the least amount of suffering and pain for children with the least amount of side-effects – TSW included, as that is so hard on the metabolism/immune system and self-confidence. My son doesn’t itch, scratch or suffer in the slightest anymore. His skin looks immaculate. I cannot thank the good doctor enough.

For the majority of red-skin sufferers, let’s start calling RSS what it really is – RS resulting from steroid rebound due to the skin not yet being properly treated. This is by no means an indication that your body has become dependent on steroids. Get the skin properly treated and the suffering ends. It really is that simple in most cases – at least for those who are being treated by Dr. Aron.

Mom holding baby girl

Were My Daughters Addicted to Steroids?

I was worried my two children might have had TSW– as many describe, extended use of increasingly potent steroids on their wee little bodies only seemed to result in MORE eczema appearing in places they had never had it before, and every time we stopped the steroids, the eczema always came back worse than ever almost immediately. Plus, though they had always responded well to the steroids, the eczema was starting to break through even whilst we were still using them. I researched like crazy, read about TSW and ITSAN, was terrified that they might be addicted to the steroids and that the only way to help them would be to put them through hell first. We stopped the steroids for two weeks while I tried to figure out what to do (their eczema was rampant and horrific during this time–my toddler could not sleep for more than two hours at a go and they both scratched CONSTANTLY). Thankfully, I saw a post that a friend had written on one of the eczema boards about how TSW was not the only way and that there was a gentler route. I contacted Dr. Aron and have never looked back.

My eldest is 5 and doesn’t have a sign of eczema anywhere on her body and hasn’t for 7 months bar the odd dry patch which we’ve treated with diprobase or one dose of Dr. Aron’s mixture. She is on one app every 5 days, though I would hazard a guess that she doesn’t need it. We are sticking to it over the winter though on Dr. Aron’s advice–he knows his stuff and I have long since learned to trust him despite the fact that I thought I might never trust another dermatologist again.

My youngest is 2 now and still has flares, but the major HUGE difference between her eczema now and her eczema last year is that these flares can be easily linked to a trigger (usually a virus), are mild compared to before, and they PASS, quickly and without major incident and we get back to using minimal cream to maintain her good skin (once every three days). We have stepped down applications of the medicine successfully where we never could before without rebound and now her eczema is manageable and she is living a normal life. And she sleeps all night every night!

My view of steroids and, by connection, TSW is that steroids are an excellent medication for the treatment of eczema WHEN USED TO THEIR BEST ADVANTAGE. I don’t think applying neat potent steroid to raging eczema WITHOUT treating the underlying infection that Dr. Aron so neatly summarises in his opinions on the condition is at all effective. I don’t think the steroid in any way is causing the eczema or causing it to worsen, but it isn’t living up to its full potential as it does when applied using Dr. Aron’s mixtures and routines. I also think that many, many supposed cases of TSW are actually seriously out of control eczema.

I do NOT think there is a cure for eczema–the nearest thing is to put it in remission, as Dr. Aron often does (in the case of my eldest daughter) and/or to control it, which Dr. Aron almost always does (the only time I’ve heard of him being unable to help was when there were other complex medical issues involved). I think those that do manage to achieve good skin and few to no flares with TSW are only managing what Dr. Aron does, but at a cost of great suffering.

In the course of the last eight months, I’ve gone from viewing steroids as something rather dark and fearful to something fairly innocuous. They aren’t the big bad guys that many people say they are–a lot of conclusions have been jumped to about steroids without, as far as I have researched, a great deal of hard evidence verified by a significant body of trained professionals. Lots of assumptions, but not a lot of fact. Of course, just as any medication or treatment should not be undertaken lightly or without professional guidance, I give steroids proper deference. But they are just a medication. They sure as hell are a million times better than immunosuppressants, with their verified, serious risks. As a last resort, I understand, but I cannot understand how people pursuing clear skin through TSW think that immunos are preferable to steroids.

Dr. Aron’s treatment offers the achievement of the same goal as TSW but under the supervision of a highly trained, highly practised medical professional who REALLY understands how these medications operate and how to use them to achieve the best results. And his results are much more reliable and much more quickly achieved–how many people have I heard about lately who have been in TSW for years??? Madness! How long before a person concedes that it isn’t working? I would recommend Dr. Aron to ANYONE pursuing TSW who has any doubts about their current path to healing.

I think about this a lot, especially when I see/hear some of the suffering that goes on in TSW. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, certainly not when there is such a brilliant alternative. And just in case anyone is wondering, I am just an ordinary mum living an ordinary life and I get absolutely nothing from recommending this treatment or spending so much time advising other people other than the pleasure of knowing that yet another child (or adult) will find some relief from the horror of eczema.