How I tapered down from 20 years of topical steroids

My name is Jason Vergara from Sydney, Australia. I am the founder of TSW Assist. This is my personal journey of how I tapered down from using Diprosone to no longer using any steroid creams at all. Diprosone is an ultra-strength highly-potent steroid cream that is up to 600 times as potent as low level hydrocortisone cream. It is commonly prescribed by doctors to treat eczema in adults and children.

Born in 1991, at 7 years old, I was hospitalised at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Australia for the severity of my eczema.
Steroid creams were the only solution that gave me relief. It allowed me to live an eczema-free life. After nearly two decades of using of the highest potency steroid creams, it came to a point of tachyphylaxis.

In 2015, I stumbled upon information about Topical Steroid Withdrawal by Dr Marvin Rapaport. For many years, my skin health deteriorated and improved in cycles by what I thought was eczema. All the symptoms of Topical Steroid Withdrawal exactly matched what I was experiencing with my condition. I decided to stop using corticosteroid creams cold turkey. This sent my skin into severe withdrawal symptoms of cracking, bleeding, and oozing skin. I had thermoregulation issues, food intolerances, anxiety and insomnia. I felt like I was on fire like there were flames on my skin.

After discontinuing and continuing steroid creams many times, I realized that quitting topical steroids cold turkey was too brutal for my body. I needed to try the alternative option of reducing topical steroids slowly and tapering off.

topical steroid withdrawal face
Flakey, burning, inflamed skin
topical steroid withdrawal finger
Skin atrophy and ripping after years of Diprosone use

Wheatgrass Spray

I decided to take the taper approach and gradually work myself down the topical steroid ladder. I stumbled upon Dr. Wheatgrass as it was the only product at the time in 2014 that actively spoke about Topical Steroid Withdrawal and how their Wheatgrass shots and spray could assist in the taper process.

To my surprise, I was able to email their founder Dr Chris Reynolds directly who was very helpful in providing assistance. He provided a taper chart that allowed me to follow a proper process of tracking my topical steroid use and reducing the application over time. He even provided discounted wholesale prices for me as I told him that I wasn’t in the best financial position to continue to buy his products so frequently.

Over 2 years, the Wheatgrass spray helped me manage the inflammation on my skin and I found it soothing. I managed to taper my steroid use down from twice a day to once every 3 days. However, I just couldn’t make it past the third day. My skin was in a state of limbo and survival and I would plan my lifestyle and events around the days that I could use topical steroids. Eventually, it came to a point where applying the creams once every 3 days did not work, and I would need to get my skin to a stable point by using topical steroids more often again. It always felt like 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. At this point I had taken too much time off work and my social life began to deteriorate that I decided to look for another solution. Then, I found the Dr Aron method.

topical steroid withdrawal leg
Inflammation, bumpy hives

The Dr Aron Regimen – a compound cream

Note: I am not promoting or demoting this treatment. This is my honest experience.

The Dr Aron’s Regimen is a treatment method for eczema that makes a compound product out of the following:

  • a much weaker topical steroid
  • an antibiotic cream
  • a moisturizer as the base

It is applied aggressively to begin with (5 x a day) and then eventually tapered down. Within 1 week of being on this compound cream my skin was the best it had ever been. The antibiotic cream to treat the underlying staph seem to work wonders and my skin was miraculously healed. Smooth, spotless and healthy. I felt a new sense of freedom. I followed the regimen’s advised process of tapering down. It was a very slow taper but it was effective. I lived my best life. I went traveling overseas, played sports, ate anything I wanted, and binge drank alcohol at parties.

I managed to follow the slow taper down process to eventually using the compound cream once a day. My skin remained healthy, unlike when I taper down off pure neat steroids.

Reflecting over the past years, I got so carried away with life that I completely forgot about my eczema, and forgot about the fact that I was still using steroid creams within Dr Aron’s compound cream. I lived a worry-free life. I drank a lot. I got some tattoos. I ate so much rubbish food. Then one day, after 4 years of using Dr Aron’s cream, it stopped working for me.

The compound cream lost its efficacy and I could no longer use it just once a day. I started using it aggressively again, like at the beginning (5 x a day) then tapered down to once a day again. One again my skin miraculously healed. This became a vicious cycle where every time I would try and taper past 1 x application per day, my skin would have all the symptoms that I initlally experiened when I went cold turkey TSW. Bumpy, cracked, bleeding, pus, oozing, ripping, thin skin etc.

I guess I was in denial for 4 years, and secretly I knew that I was still using topical steroids and that this day would come where it stops working and the withdrawal symptoms return.

This was my steroid application and taper process that I was following:

Duration Application
10 days 4 x daily
10 days 3 x daily
10 days 2 x daily
2 weeks 2 x daily
8 weeks 2 x daily, 1 x daily
8 weeks 1 x daily
4 weeks 5 x weekly
4 weeks 4 x weekly
4 weeks 3 x weekly
4 weeks 2 x weekly
4 weeks 1 x weekly

Lifestyle and diet

I decided to clean up my lifestyle. I tried every diet under the sun – vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, organic, Karen Fischer’s eczema diet, intermittent fasting. My most extreme attempt was a 72 hour fast.  I also tried the elimination diet where I would cut out major food groups and re-introduce them one by one. This destroyed my body and I became nutrient deficient. I lost 12kg in two weeks and developed food anxiety.
The diet that worked best for me was a balance of protein, healthy fats, lots of fruits and veggies, and no sugar and alcohol.
When I started fuelling my body with nutritious food, while still trying to taper off Dr Aron’s compound cream, I was able to taper down to only using the cream once every three days. This was a huge milestone for me, but I still couldn’t get past using it once every three days. The TSW symptoms would always come back.



Next, I decided to add some supplements to my health regime. I saw a naturopath who put me on an array of supplements such as zinc, magnesium, b vitamins. We also did a gut healing program with different strains of probiotics. We worked on adrenal support and sleep quality. The gut healing program and supplements really helped me. I became less intolerant to many foods that would previously make me itchy and red. The zinc helped my wound healing and the magnesium improved my quality of sleep.

I was also taking a product called Adrenotone to help with adrenal support and fatigue. I also started taking Lion’s Mane, a medicinal mushroom that helps with cognitive function and nerve support, as well as Cordyceps to assist with non caffeinated energy.

After combining a clean balanced diet, no alcohol, and vitamin supplementation I was able to taper down the Dr Aron compound to once every three days. It was fantastic but after a while, I could not make it past once every three days again!


At this point it was February 2020. The global coronavirus pandemic shut down the whole world. I lost my job and was stuck in my apartment. I felt defeated and exhausted but saw this as an opportunity to finally quit topical steroids cold turkey. I decided to quit the compound cream. After the seventh day, my skin became the worst it’s ever been. All the symptoms of Topical Steroid Withdrawal were back in full-effect. I lost the ability to thermoregulate while my skin ripped, bled and oozed. My hair began to fall out and I became extremely itchy. There was no medical support, no solutions. Everything that I did up until that moment was trial and error and I felt like I was back at square one. A dark depression loomed over me but I didn’t let this overtake me. Over the years, I learnt a lot about my body and what helped me heal – proper nutritious food and specific supplements. This gave me hope.

topical steroid withdrawal flaking face skin
My whole face was shedding skin constantly. After one layer peels off, the layer underneath peels off within the next 24 hours. Pus and liquid would also ooze out.
topical steroid withdrawal hand
Itchy, bumpy hives that would ooze out with liquid

Mental health, mindfulness, meditation and manifestation.

It was through some very dark days during the 2020 pandemic that the only thing I could do was pray and meditate. My physical world was a brutal pain, but in my mind, the possibilities were endless. I started reading books that would help me alleviate the anxiety and depression in my mind. I practiced daily meditation, mindfulness and became quite spiritual. The more I calmed my mind, and unidentified with my body, the more peaceful I felt, regardless if my skin was on fire.

I learnt about the power of the mind and bought all of Joe Dispenza’s books and courses about healing yourself with your mind. I read the Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. This shift in mindset was the greatest investment and longest lasting improvement I have ever made for my mental health. I discovered the power of focusing inward rather than outward.

In a period of hopeless iatrogenic illness caused by an adverse affect to pharmaceutical medicine, alternative solutions through mental health gave me solace.

I relapsed

After one month of severe Topical Steroid Withdrawal symptoms, I gave in. I hadn’t slept for days. I sat in the dark with the curtains closed everyday. I could barely walk and was hunched over. Every movement hurt. I was scared to eat anything and lost 10kg. I was scared to shower. I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed rest. I needed a break from my suffering. I needed steroid creams.
I decided to use Dr Aron’s compound cream again. But this time it was different. I would use the compound cream to get my skin back to a healthy state, and once again, try and taper down.
This time, I had a new mental approach. A new mindset! A firm belief that I would be healed. Zero doubts. Inspired with fierce intention, manifestation, and an unwavering self belief that if my mind truly believes my skin will be healed, my body will follow. And so I started using the Dr Aron compound cream, again.

topical steroid withdrawal leg
Infected and inflamed leg
topical steroid withdrawal hand palm
Dyshidrotic eczema that would rip, bleed and ooze

Cold exposure

During the same time, I discovered the Wim Hof Method and cold therapy exposure. I did his online course and religiously practiced deep breathing techniques, cold showers and ice baths. The cold showers worked wonders for the inflammation, my immune system, and significantly reduced the flare ups. I was doing daily cold showers and ice baths every second day.

At this point it was September 2020, and with nutritious food, supplementation, daily meditation, cold showers, deep breathing exercises, journalling and positive and shift in mindset, I felt like I had all the essential tools to taper off steroid creams successfully. I followed the taper process again and managed to taper down to an application of once every two days. This was my biggest milestone yet. I was slowly solving my own personal health code of tapering down from steroids. My body and skin were responding really well!

There was one thing however, that I could not get rid of. I was always itchy. Even though my skin was in a good state, I couldn’t shake off this bone-deep itch that I had. It was everywhere. I was convinced that I was not actually itchy, and it was a deeply ingrained behavioural habit that I developed from 25 years of eczema.

I decided to see a hypnotist to tap into my subconscious and make me stop this habitual scratching. After my first and only consultation with the hypnotist, she told me that ethically she cannot hypnotize me to stop scratching. She said this was because I actually had the physiological health condition of eczema and that I was actually itchy – it’s not a subconscious habit. I really respected her for this transparency.

To my absolute luck, she said that her teenage daughter who also had severe eczema and bad experiences from stopping steroid creams. She suggested that I see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who has helped her daughter. She gave me his details and I went straight to him.


Traditional Chinese Medicine

When I was a young child, my parents took me to see a TCM doctor, but at the time we were lost in translation and didn’t give it the time and attention that it deserved. Also, I’m not sure if the TCM doctor we visited in the early 90s actually specialized in skin health.

Returning back to Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2020 was the last piece of the puzzle of my own personal healing journey.

I started receiving acupuncture and herbal teas from a Traditional Chinese Medicine skin specialist.
As a 31 year old adult, I am now a huge advocate of TCM. After one month of treatment, my skin was the smoothest it has been in 20 years. And it wasn’t just cosmetic and aesthetic. Internally I started to feel stronger and healthier. My asthma cleared up, my nose stopped running, and my sleep improved significantly.

During this time I was still using the Dr Aron cream once every three days. I was scared to stop in fear that all this money and effort would go to waste and Topical Steroid Withdrawal would override everything. I was adamant to get off topical steroids for good. And so I committed to taper further.

I received ongoing Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment for one year, whilst tapering down the application of the Dr Aron compound. I maintained my meditation, stretching, light exercise, healthy nutritious food, supplementation, cold showers, and deep breathing exercises. My skin stayed healthy, free of TSW symptoms and eczema. I managed to get the application of the Dr Aron compound cream down to once every 7 days!

At this point, I questioned myself – do I really need to use the steroid compound cream anymore? And so I stopped.

One week passed, no TSW symptoms.
Two weeks passed. One month.
Three months.
Six months. No TSW symptoms.
No itching, oozing, bleeding, ripping, temperature fluctuations. Nothing. Only mild nummular eczema spots!

Current Day

Updated September 22, 2022.

Today I can say that I haven’t used Topical Steroids in 15 months and my skin is the healthiest it has ever been. I still have cold showers. I still take daily supplements of magnesium, zinc, probiotics.  Once every two months, I receive acupuncture and take one week of TCM herbal teas. I still do daily meditation and work on my mindset, mental health and positive mindfulness. I eat a well balanced meal of protein, carbs and vegetables. I rarely eat sugar and fast food. I drink socially once every few months. It has been 15 months since I last used topical steroids and I haven’t had any symptoms of TSW at all. My skin continues to get more resilient everyday. I barely use moisturisers. All the previous suffering seems like a distant memory.

I go camping every few months. I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu where I’m grappling with sweaty opponents and my skin can handle it. I returned to boxing and Muay Thai again. Currently writing this, it is September 2022, and I’m on the plane to the Philippines for a tropical holiday and to visit my extended family! I did it. I cracked my own health code and tapered off Diprosone – one of the most potent steroid creams in the world.

For those reading, I am aware that there are many long term TSW sufferers who had their symptoms return after one year or two years. While I cannot rule out that it won’t happen to me, I now have my own unique system and processes to overcome this if the TSW symptoms return.

My dad and I
With my dad in The Philippines
Big day of snorkelling and island hopping with my best friend in Boracay

Frequently Asked Questions

Did Dr Aron’s Method cause Topical Steroid Withdrawal?

Tricky question. It did not, because I was already experiencing TSW symptoms prior to the treatment.

In my personal experience, I believe it only delayed the inevitable for TSW symptoms to return, due to my long history of topical steroid use.

I was already using neat highly potent topical steroid creams for many years before using Dr Aron’s compound cream. The antibiotic component in Dr Aron’s compound cream made a tremendous positive difference to my skin health to treat the underlying staph infection, but the steroid component only delayed the inevitable withdrawal symptoms in my personal experience.

Perhaps for those without long term usage of high potency topical steroids won’t experience the severe withdrawals that I experienced? But this is just a thought. More research is required around topical steroid withdrawal.

In saying that, I am very grateful to have access to use Dr Aron’s method for the years I was using the compound creams. It improved my skin so rapidly and allowed me to live a normal life during the years that it worked for me, before it lost its efficacy.

From what I can see in polarising discussions in online forums and Facebook groups:

  • It has helped many people
  • It may have also caused TSW symptoms in many people who struggle to taper off it

In my personal experience with it, the compound cream became less effective after 4 years, and I had to use more and more aggressively before I could figure out my own unique way to taper off it. I knew at the back of my mind that I was still using steroid creams everyday and eventually coming off them completely would bring back the withdrawal symptoms.

To be clear, I am not recommending the Dr Aron Method, nor am I disregarding it. I am simply sharing my honest journey with it. Topical Steroid Withdrawal and eczema is very complex and unique to each individual. More research and data is required.


Which is better? Tapering down from topical steroids or Cold Turkey TSW?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an accurate answer for this and I can only share my experience.

Like me, there are many people who were able to taper off topical steroids completely.

There are also many who claim it only prolonged their topical steroid withdrawal journey and delayed the inevitable!

Having tried both methods, in my personal experience, the taper method was less brutal and I was able to live a somewhat normal life, before the symptoms eventually returned.

If you are going through long term TSW, please do not let my own personal experience impact your judgment and intuition of your own personal journey!

If you are months or years into your own cold turkey TSW journey and plan to never use topical steroids again, you have my full support and I wholeheartedly admire your courage. There are many TSW warriors who have had success with this.


Did you ever take oral steroids, such as prednisone?

No, I did not.


If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?

With the knowledge and experience I have now, as a number one priority, I would stop drinking alcohol and consuming sugar.
My second priority would be to start Traditional Chinese Medicine (with an eczema skin specialist not a health generalist) as soon as possible.
I would make sure that I would only have cold showers, eat a nutritious high protein diet, sleep 8 hours a night, and control my stress and anxiety levels through meditation and mindfulness. I would also take zinc, magnesium, probiotics, and do a gut healing program with a naturopath – all while tapering down very slowly off steroid creams.

Again, this is my unique personal experience and this is not advice or recommendations. I am only sharing what worked for me, and unfortunately, it may not work for others. Unfortunately for some people, Traditional Chinese Medicine has not had any positive impact for them – this may because they did not see a Traditional Chinese Medicine skin specialist.


Why did you create TSW Assist?

I created TSW Assist because I climbed out of the dark hole that is Topical Steroid Withdrawal, and I know there are hundreds of thousands, dare I say, millions of people in their own dark holes.

These were the most physically brutal and psychologically painful years of my life. The lack of support and solutions spiralled the hopelessness and desperation.

I don’t have the answers or the cure for this illness, however I cracked my own personal health code and I found some solutions that work for me. Through these crowd sourced insights  directly from the TSW community on this website, I hope together we can uncover effective ways to manage the symptoms experienced during the withdrawal period.

If you are a health professional reading this and it resonates with you, please contact us. We’re building a network of healthcare professionals on a mission to provided integrated support to the global TSW community.

My story is not the cure for Topical Steroid Withdrawal. It is is my own personal experience. If you are in the thick of your own TSW journey, I hope my story gives you hope that you can get better. And you will get better.


Update November 14th 2023:

I still haven’t used any topical steroids. I have mild eczema flares which are improved by sleep, nutritious food and active lifestyle choices. Overall my skin is still healthy and a continuous work in progress. People have asked me for a more elaborate account of my experience and taper process. I’m thinking of writing a short book of my journey covering every aspect of my taper process, all the professional help I received, and all my journal entries of what worked and what didn’t work. I’ll go into the finer detail of everything mentioned above. If you are interested, let me know here.

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