If you’re going down the no moisture route (NMT) for healing from topical steroid withdrawal syndrome, you’ll know it’s no walk in the park.
Many people swear by drastically cutting the moisture in and on your body, saying it stimulates the body to respond appropriately, regulate the production of natural oils and calm down inflammatory responses, after topical steroid use has modulated inflammatory responses and left the body out of whack.
But following Dr Sato’s regime isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to do NMT at home, on your own, or even while trying to hold down a job. Withdrawal from topical steroids can be hard enough, with skin oozing, flaking, wrinkling, itching and swelling all normal symptoms of the process. Coping with all that discomfort without using moisturisers can be unendurable.
So what is and isn’t allowed? According to NMT strict guidelines, you shouldn’t use any moisturisers at all, and you should radically restrict your water intake as well. But circumstances have forced many people to adapt the treatment to something that works for them, so they can carry on their lives as best they can, while still adhering to a severely reduced use of moisturisers.
Using any kind of moisturiser is not an orthodox no moisture treatment, but as with any management strategy for any skin condition, you have to do what is right for you!
Here are six tips for the really hard days, gathered from our friends and customers who are going through TSW and have personal experience of NMT.
1: Be kind to yourself
If you use moisturiser one day, don’t think all is lost. You’re on a journey and everyone’s skin is different; what works for one person in TSW might not work for you. If you want to continue NMT, you can start again tomorrow. Managing your stress levels is more important to your health and well-being than being hard on yourself.
2: Eat well
Treat yourself to something really nutritious and cheering if you’re feeling low or in discomfort. Make yourself a healthy avocado smoothie or have some oily fish. Think of it as a boost for your body, which will in turn be a boost for your soul! Self-care is so important.
Remember how important sleep and rest in general are for healing. Your body is going through so much; let it rest if it needs to, you don’t need to be superwo/man. Deploy any strategies you can think of to get a good night’s sleep: see Ruth from What Allergy’s article How To Get Through TSW: Ruth Holroyd's Sleep Tips For The Eczema-Prone for some great tips. And if you need an afternoon nap, do it!
4: Use balm if you need to
If you’re in more pain than you can bear or if your skin is cracked and vulnerable to infection, then use a little bit of oil-based balm (not a water-based cream) on your lips, around your eyes, on any really bad bits. As stated above, this isn’t the orthodox NMT regime, but unless you’re under Dr Sato’s direct care as an in-patient then you’re not doing orthodox NMT anyway! Skin Salvation is a gentle, protective ointment that can protect cracked or open skin, and bring a little bit of comfort to sore patches.
5: Feed your skin
Try using a light, non-irritant nutritious oil such as rosehip on your face, as a kind of topical vitamin supplement! This feeds the skin the nutrients it needs to support the regeneration of skin cells, and should help rebalance your skin’s natural cycle of repair and regrowth. Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil works wonders on sensitive, struggling skin. See Louise King's (@louigi_skin) blog about rosehip oil for more details about using it during TSW.
6: Get support!
Find your community and get the encouragement and support you need to get through this difficult time; you’ll find tips and advice from those who’ve gone through TSW and are out the other side. You can search on Instagram for #NMT, #ThisIsNotEczema, #TopicalSteroidWithdrawal. Join ITSAN on Facebook.
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash works as a soap-free, scent-free and irritant-free shampoo/body wash (£19 for 200ml)
Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil with rosehip, lavender, chamomile and grapeseed oil (£18.99 for 50ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.