Mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal

Mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal is a common skin condition that can affect people who are slowly, or abruptly, discontinuing the use of topical steroids. The most common symptom of mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal is red, dry, itchy, skin, and is often called Red Skin Syndrome. Mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal can last for long periods of time and may come and go in flares. It can often be confused with eczema as the skin is often a hybrid of both. While there is no cure for Topical Steroid Withdrawal, there are treatments available that can help to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for mild TSW.

The symptoms of Topical Steroid Withdrawal can often present itself as mild to begin with. Prolonged use and misuse of topical steroids can further exacerbate the symptoms to a more severe state when the patient discontinues the application of the steroid creams. 

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Mild TSW while gradually tapering off steroid creams

The taper method, which involves the slow gradual decrease of the use of topical steroids is a common method used however there is scarce data on the efficacy of this method. During the taper method, mild symptoms can frequently appear but are often not as severe as quitting topical steroids cold turkey.

The challenge with quitting topical steroids cold turkey vs the taper method is that both require an extended duration of time and information is scarce on which method is the most effective. Within the community, there has been anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of both.



As the body goes through a withdrawal period from topical steroids, exposure to certain irritants or allergens can trigger  flares. Common triggers include:

Dry skin: When the skin is dry, it is more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. This can cause the onset of mild TSW symptoms.

Irritants: Certain substances, such as soap, detergent, or pollen, can irritate the skin and trigger a flare.

Allergens: People with Topical Steroid Withdrawal may be allergic to certain substances, such as dust mites or pet dander. These allergens can trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

Stress: Stress has been shown to worsen Topical Steroid Withdrawal symptoms.


Symptoms of mild TSW

Also referred to as Red Skin Syndrome, the most common symptom of mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal is dry, itchy skin. The skin may appear red and inflamed, and it may be cracked or crusted. In severe cases, the skin may bleed. It can also cause swelling and blistering. Symptoms usually worsen at night.


There is no cure for Topical Steroid Withdrawal, but there are treatments available that can help to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Treatment options include:

Topical treatments: Topical treatments are creams or ointments that are applied directly to the skin. They can help to soothe itching and inflammation. Common topical treatments for mild TSW can include natural balms, calcineurin inhibitors, antihistamines, and moisturizers.

Systemic treatments: Systemic treatments are medications that are taken orally or injected. They work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation. Common medical systemic treatments for Topical Steroid Withdrawal include oral corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. Throughout online communities, there are hundreds of stories emerging that oral steroids treatment may only delay the symptoms of topical steroid withdrawal, causing widespread TSW and eczema symptoms across the whole body after the treatment. More research is required to support this.

Light therapy: Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light. This treatment can help to reduce inflammation and improve the appearance of the skin.


Mild Topical Steroid Withdrawal is a growing chronic condition that can be difficult to manage. More people learn about the dangers of long term topical steroid use and the withdrawal symptoms that can take place upon stopping the application of these creams. This is resulting in a gradual discontinuation and topical steroids, resulting in hybrid symptomatic skin of TSW and the underlying skin condition.  However, with the proper awareness, lifestyle changes, and treatments, most people with Topical Steroid Withdrawal can find relief from their mild symptoms and improve their quality of life.

At TSW Assist we are gathering crowd sourced solutions from the community on the most effective ways to manage the inflammation and symptoms associated with Topical Steroid Withdrawal. We have also put together some products recommended by the community to assist with the symptoms of TSW.