FOR years Jonathan Rowe struggled with an agonising skin condition eczema.
But the 32-year-old, from London, says he finally managed to "cure" his eczema – after depriving his skin of all moisture.
Jonathan, an associate director for a bank, first developed small itchy, red patches on his face when he as 18.
His doctor gave him a steroid cream, and although it seemed to fix the problem initially, the painful condition soon returned.
He said: “I visited the doctor quite regularly after that, probably once a month.
My skin was out of control and I had whole body eczema
"Back then I didn’t realise the dangers of the medication I was given.
"Each time I went to the doctor, I was given a stronger steroid cream until I was around 24 when my skin was out of control and I had whole body eczema.
"It was on my face, neck, back, arms and legs. It was pretty uncomfortable, and it was seriously controlling my life as I would take a lot of time off work."
He was then prescribed an immunosuppressant normally used for transplant patients, to stop his body attacking itself.
But he started to become concerned about the long-term side effects of the drug and was routinely being given blood tests to check his liver and kidneys.
He said: "I really thought a 24-year-old shouldn’t be having this to control their skin.
“I was the one who pushed to come off as I wasn’t comfortable taking it due to the possible side effects.
"I was told there was a risk of getting cancer from this medication."
Out of control
Jonathan soon came to the realisation that his condition was getting progressively worse and he needed to find a better solution.
In April 2018, while researching ways to stop using steroids, Jonathan came across articles discussing topical steroid withdrawal (TSW).
He said: "I realised I was addicted to steroids and if I stopped using the creams then my skin would flare out of control.
“The symptoms for TSW are flaking skin, fluid oozing from skin, blisters, swelling, irritated eyes, hair loss, trouble sleeping and appetite changes.
I realised I was addicted to steroids and if I stopped using the creams then my skin would flare out of control
“I visited a consultant dermatologist and they said topical steroid addiction was not a real thing and I should carry on with the steroids.
"I told him that I’d been researching TSW and I disagreed with him so I wouldn’t be following his treatment recommendation."
He began something known as no moisture therapy (NMT) to dry out the skin and allow it to create its own moisture again.
What is eczema?
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.
Atopic eczema (the most common form of the condition) is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday.
However, it may also develop for the first time in adults.
It's usually a long-term condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older.
The exact cause of eczema is not known.
Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.
It can affect any part of the body but it most often affects the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees and the face and scalp in children.
There are many different treatments to help control eczema, including:
- self-care techniques, such as reducing scratching and avoiding triggers (babies and small children may need to wear mittens to avoid scratching)
- moisturising on a daily basis
- topical corticosteroids to reduce swelling, redness and itching during flare-ups
Jonathan said: "I found the research of a Japanese doctor called Dr Sato who has been treating TSW using his ground-breaking approach of NMT.
“I drink a maximum of one litre of water a day, no moisturiser, I limit showers to one per week for two minutes, no baths, no water after 7pm, and I eat more protein to counteract the loss of protein.
"Effectively, you’re treating TSW by completely drying out your skin.
“My skin has never been better than it is now and it does not affect me in my daily life.
"I never apply anything to my skin anymore, especially not moisturiser."
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