I and many of the Topical Steroid Withdrawal community are absolutely furious to see a high profile TV dermatologist pushing a topical cortisone steroid as an over the counter product.
Dr Sandra Lee is sending out free samples to high profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
Marketing Super Cortisone+ as the ‘heal all cream’ that every home should have in their medical cabinet.
As someone who is still going through withdrawal from using prescription topical steroids such as Betnovate, Elocon and Locoid this is giving me nightmares. Because this journey for me all began with good old Hydrocortisone, the mildest and lowest potency steroid cream. I can’t bear to think of other people going through what I have been through unnecessarily.
Hydrocortisone is the stepping stone to the hard stuff. A bit like hash can be the start of someone using stronger recreational drugs.
It is not just a moisturiser. It is a steroid cream.
Read ‘Dr Pimple Popper just made cortisol cream cool!’
No! Not Cool Sandra. NOT COOL!
How is this allowed? Why is this even legal?
I do not endorse this video
This video has me literally fuming. I have been through a lot of anger, guilt, shame and anxiety throughout my withdrawal and this has got me all riled up again. I will be using this anger to help calmly raise awareness for what can happen. This is a serious drug that should not be sold as a cosmetic super cream.
Only in America (and Canada)…
This is happening in America, where else? and would be illegal here in England. But it seems in the US you can sell topical cortisone using any language or marketing tactics you like.
I’d love to know what big pharma is paying Dr Sandra Lee. It must be a lot of money. If you’ve not heard of her before, she’s Dr Pimple Popper and she has a huge following on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other channels. I don’t even want to share links to her social platforms because this scares me so much.
There is a big movement driven by Cara and many others in the TSW community. I’m late to the game really because it’s been going on for a while. All we can do is respond, sharing our fears and misgivings and try to get our message across, that this is dangerous.
Super Cortisone+ is 1% potency
In the UK the first topical steroid you’ll be given is Hydrocortisone which is 0.1%. You can buy Hydrocortisone over the counter to use on itchy skin rashes and insect bites. It works and is safe for short term use.
But when this doesn’t help your eczema you begin to be prescribed stronger and stronger cortisone creams. They eventually stop working and begin to cause more, worse skin problems and you’ll end up addicted.
Now this doesn’t happen to everyone who uses them, but we don’t understand yet why some people become addicted and need stronger and stronger medication and eventually Oral Immunosuppresants like Methoterexate or Biologics like Dupliomab.
We don’t know what the long term effects of using these are either. They scare me just as much as the topical steroids. Methotrexate resulted in me getting shingles which caused me 5-6 weeks of extreme discomfort and pain so bad and shocking to my body that the TSW actually went away. I was just a ball of pain. I would not wish that on anyone.
Dream Cream and Super Cortisone+
Also, how is it ethical or appropriate to use words like ‘super’ and ‘dream’ when describing a topical hydrocortisone? She describes it as ‘cool’ and ‘super charged’. This fluffy marketing speak should not be used alongside a serious topical steroid cream.
OK so it doesn’t contain parabens, phalates, sulfates or fragrances and it also has other more healing ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E and shea butter… but there is nothing dreamy about topical steroids.
No products like this should be making claims about being Super or a Dream. These are serious products that you can only get on prescription in the UK or from a pharmacy. If used wrongly they are dangerous. The language is misleading and wrong. It is cortisone cream. That is all. It should not be sold as anything other than that and in my opinion the very real risk of addiction and withdrawal should be shown far more prominently with graphic pictures of how bad this stuff can make your skin.
Because believe me, your skin will be worse than you an ever imagined when you try to give it up. This is a lifetime choice unless you have a few years to go through withdrawal.
But hey, you might not get addicted… are you willing to take that risk?
Drugs on drugs on drugs
It terrifies me that drugs like this are the first thing prescribed by so many doctors. So few people are encouraged to examine their diet, lifestyle and mental health and I truly believe you’ll never be free of eczema unless you do.
It terrifies me further that they can be given away as special gifts to anyone and everyone.
How is this happening?
YOU all need to STOP.
This has to STOP.
I feel like this is just a big massive marketing ploy to get a nation, a world, the globe, hooked on topical steroids, so that they are then a permanent money stream.
It takes a lot of guts, support and planning to go through withdrawal, so many are left without the option of ever being free of these toxic and damaging drugs.
Because that’s what they are. They are more addictive than herione.
Harder to come off and go through cold turkey than any other drug I’ve ever come across. You can go to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction and be clean in months. I know it’s not the same and I have never taken drugs like this but the withdrawal is shorter that topical steroids.
Topical Steroid withdrawal can go on for YEARS and it’s one of the most painful, undignified, destructive processes I’ve heard of.
You may lose your job or not be able to work. You will lose your dignity.
Be stripped of everything that makes you human, woman, man, functioning. You will question your sanity.
You will go to places you never dreamt it was possible to go. You will be brought to your knees and you will question whether you can go on. But you do go on because going back is not an option.
Your hair will fall out. Your skin will erupt into oozy open wounds. You will itch and flake in a constant cycle for as long as this bloody process takes.
You may have chronic and debilitating nerve pain which I had for months. I’m not sure I should have been driving while this was happening and pretty much didn’t because it was so hard to concentrate when my body was spasming with these nerve cramps.
But do you know what the worst thing is?
TSW and TSA are not recognised by the medical profession
Yup. That’s right. We feel like we are all just making this up. Few doctors and dermatologists recognise this is actually happening to us and there is no support for anyone choosing to go through withdrawal.
Having said that, there is enormous and incredible support from the online community so if you think you have TSA don’t despair. Do your research and find out everything you can. Arm yourself for battle. Check out ITSAN and watch the Preventable Documentary.
I’ve been fortunate that my dermatologist has followed my journey through withdrawal from topical steroids and protopic and I’ve been lucky enough to get UVB therapy to see if that helped. I think it did actually and you can read my other blogs on this if you’re interested.
But enough about me.
I’m calling for all Dermatologists out there.
All doctors and GPS.
Anyone with an interest in eczema and skin health.
Please listen to us.
This is real.
Topical steroid withdrawal is a nightmare but it’s very real. It’s happening. And if you use topical steroids for a prolonged period of time it could be coming to you too.
Until TSA and TSW are recognised as real and debilitating conditions this kind of thing will continue. And while pharmaceutical companies are willing and able to pay high profile celebrity dermatologists to pedal these drugs, there is little we can do.
This blog feels like a drop of rain in the middle of a desert but I have to try.
Dr Sandra Lee, how can you sleep at night? How will you help those people who become addicted to your Super Cortisone+ ?? You probably won’t, but we, the TSW community will be left to pick up the pieces.
OK Rant Over. If you feel so driven, why not pop a nice, calm, respectful comment to Dr Sandra Lee or Dr Pimple Popper as she is also know. The more comments she gets from people concerned about this marketing campaign for her product the better. If you want to check out some of her claims follow her business account on Instagram here and please feel free to comment on her posts: https://www.instagram.com/slmdskincare/
You can buy this Super Cortisone+ for just $15 on her website.
With no warnings, no mention of the effect overuse can have on your skin. And she recommends that you:
Apply to the affected area up to 3 to 4 times daily.
For external use only. THREE TO FOUR TIMES DAILY! Are you having a laugh Sandra? It kind of implies you can use it indefinitely without any worries.
Suitable for adults and children 2 years of age or older.
For children under 2 years of age, please consult a doctor.
And that little statement at the end, please consult a doctor for under 2 year olds is the only mention of anyone checking whether this is suitable for their skin condition. It’s frankly terrifying that this is allowed to happen.
I won’t sleep until I’ve tried me best to get this message out there.
Please share your views. I’m planning to send this to my MP and the Prime Minister to help raise awareness of the dangers of over prescribing of topical steroid creams. The more backing and comments the better!
Yours with steroid free passion…
Amy VT says
This is exactly what I struggle to put into words. How and why this was created….? I’ll never truly understand. Is she purposely marketing to customers to create patients? Seems that way to me. Profita before research and patient care.
Ruth HOLROYD says
Thanks for your comment Amy. I agree it’s so confusing to understand how and why she created this. I mean it contains some natural healing ingredients which is great. There aren’t any eczema prescription products that do this so that is ground breaking – to move away from the petroleum jelly stuff we usually get. But this is not just an emollient. My problem is that she’s marketing this like a harmless emollient that won’t do you any damage to your skin. When we all know from bitter experience that hydrocortisone is just the first stepping stone onto stronger and stronger topical steroids until we’re hooked. It’s the language used, and the marketing to celebrities and how she can sell topical steroids directly to people and just make that OK by saying, oh yeah read the blurb and check with the doctor or dermatologist. Problem is Sandra is a dermatologist so all these people are gonna trust her. So scary!
M Jenkins says
Bad news that this specialist is promoting steroid products. However, this is 1% hydrocortisone, which is widely available in the UK over every pharmacy counter without a prescription but a pharmacist is supposed to check why, how and for whom it is being purchased. It’s useful for short term (< 1 week) severe stings, insect bites or contact allergic reactions. It is a concern that it may be used regularly or the condition not monitored by a clinician.
The added ingredients in this advertised product are commonly used in moisturizing products, they may or may not help individuals. Their presence in this product may reduce the available % of applied steroid.. Of course, even a low dose of steroid cream should not be sold without a pharmacist checking the sale, as in the UK.
Worryingly, 2.5% hydrocortisone is available to buy online in the USA.
keep up the good work Ruth, next stop USA?
Ruth HOLROYD says
Yeah I know, hydrocortisone can be bought easily, but adding in all these lovely natural ingredients and packaging it nicely and calling it Super Cortisone+ with it’s on instagram page, sending to celebrities. Coming from a dermatologist as Sandra is it’s just so confusing. People are going to use this like a moisturiser because that’s what it sounds like. She’s making cortisone sound like something we should all be slapping on our skin and that’s not the case. It’s a dangerous drug if you get addicted and need stronger and stronger steroids.
Danielle Garrow says
this is hard to believe but i see what you are saying. i have chosen to use topicals over pills. thought topicals were safer. i guess the safest now is good soak in a tub with oatmeal. I am very allergic to probins and nickel, lately in trying to find a latest lower costing shampoo and bathing soap I have experienced seaver hot red rash down my back lasted over a week..
Ruth HOLROYD says
Hi Danielle, yes i used topical steroids for most of my life, I’m now 47. I thought they were safe too although I did know the risks, about thinning skin etc. But no one ever warned me that eventually all the topical steroids would be stop working and the only option would oral steroids, imunosuppressants of Biologic injections. These options are all sold to us as a solution but I just feel like we’re all guinea pigs and there is a natural way of solving this. it makes me so angry. If baby me was told to cut out dairy instead of slap on hycrocortisone I might not be going through this TSW now. But you can’t think like that or look back. What i can do is speak about what happened to me in the hope that it won’t happen to anyone else.
Vicky L Gray says
Fiance in Topical steroid withdrawal wk5. It’s horrific. Definitely not eczema. Red sleeves, swollen nodes, elephant skin, inability to regulate temp, shedding, edema, Bed bound, cannot work, functional doc and supplements expensive, TSW docs only have comfort measures. No magic cure. NOT A MAGICAL CREAM AT ALL!!!!!!!
Ruth Holroyd says
I am so sorry to hear this. You have a very important job to do now, caring for your fiance as the go through TSW. I’m sure you are doing a great job but I blogged about it here: https://whatallergy.com/2021/08/10-tips-for-caring-for-chronic-eczema-or-topical-steroid-withdrawal/
And also have a TSW FAQ in case you have questions about the condition. https://whatallergy.com/tsw/
Did he use that Supercortisone cream? or another topical steroid? Consider also getting him to report the damage and TSW to medical standards. It’s one small thing we can all do to help change how things are done. https://whatallergy.com/2020/11/how-to-report-topical-steroid-addiction/