Red Skin Syndrome, also known as Topical Steroid Addiction is a debilitating condition that can arise from the use of topical steroids in emollients used treat eczema, acne or other skin problems.
In Red Skin Syndrome, the steroids are effective for a while but as time passes applying topical steroids results in less and less clearing and the original problem escalates as it spreads to other areas of the body. In the case of eczema, this “progression” is often mistaken for worsening eczema.
Red Skin Syndrome an iatrogenic condition, which means it is a condition caused inadvertently by a medical treatment. Not everyone who uses topical steroids will develop Red Skin Syndrome and it is unclear why some individuals experience it after steroid therapy and others do not.
The term Topical Steroid Addiction is used to describe the situation when the body develops increased tolerance to the emollient and physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.
Symptoms of Red Skin Syndrome:
• ‘Rebound’ redness between applications
• Rashes spreading and developing in new areas of the body
• Intense itching, burning, stinging
• Failure to clear with usual course of treatment, requiring a higher potency topical steroid to achieve progressively less clearing.
• Increased allergic response
Symptoms of Withdrawal:
• Skin flushing bright ‘lobster red’
• Red sleeves: (arms/legs become red and inflamed)
• Visible and measurable flaking of skin – appears to be ‘snowing’
• Feeling too cold or too hot
• Hypersensitivity of the skin to water, movement, moisturizer, fabrics, temperature, etc.
• Nerve pain, sometimes described as “sparklers” or “zingers”
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Eye dryness and irritation
• Skin atrophy (often manifesting as “elephant wrinkles“)
• Hair loss: (head and/or body)
• Insomnia and altered body clock
• Appetite changes
• Emotional fluctuations, depression, anxiety
Since Red Skin Syndrome is caused by the use of topical steroids, proper management of the condition requires cessation of topical steroid treatment. A supportive doctor can help the patient with infection prevention, pain/itch management, anxiety therapies, sleep aids, immunosuppressants. and other appropriate comfort measures.
The information AllergyBestBuys provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician