Red Skin Syndrome – Causes, Risk Factors, And Best Treatments

    Red Skin Syndrome- Symptoms, Risk Factors, Causes, And Treatments

    Have you previously heard of red skin syndrome or RSS? Or, have you seen someone having entirely red skin? It is very common but skin diseases like this do exist. There could be some reasons behind one developing RSS, the main reason is an overdose of steroids.

    This phenomenon of having red skin syndrome is catching the attention of many researchers and experts worldwide. In this disease, the skin of a person turns red as the name suggests. Many people recommend using steroids to treat their skin. But people who have been using steroids for the long term may develop this condition called red skin syndrome. When this situation occurs, the medication you have been using to treat your skin will become less effective in performing its work.

    Red skin syndrome usually develops after using moderate to strong varieties of medicines like topical corticosteroids for the long term. Using these medications will eventually turn your skin red and cause burning or itching sensations. This may even happen in places you have not applied steroids. Many people believe and interpret this condition as a signal or evidence that their ski condition is becoming worse rather than getting better.

    Red skin syndrome is not very well studies till now, so you will not find statistics on how many people are suffering from it. There was a study from 2013 that indicated that 12% of adults who used steroids for treatment developed reactions that were called RSS.

    If you feel you are having any sort of symptoms of red skin or you have seen it developing on some regions of the skin, make sure you are having a careful look at the symptoms and diagnosis to find out the best treatments possible.

    Some Identification Tips

    red skin syndrome

    Although the symptoms vary highly from person to person, some of the most common symptoms include burning, stinging, and redness all over the skin. These symptoms usually start when you are taking topical steroids. They might also appear weeks after you have stopped consuming any sort of steroids. You never know.

    The rashes of this syndrome are most likely to shop up first on the regions where you use steroids first and then it spreads to the body.

    If you are using any type of topical steroids currently the symptoms may include:

    • Redness in portions of the body.
    • Stinging, itching, burning intensely.
    • Eczemalike rashes.

    If you have stopped using all sorts of steroids, the symptoms might include 2 categories-

    • Erythematoedematous: This type usually affects people having dermatitis or eczema. It leads to causing redness, burning, swelling, and sensitive skin. This may be seen after 1 or 2 weeks when a person has stopped using steroids.
    • Papulopustular: This type is usually seen in people who use steroids for their acne treatment. It causes deeper bumps, pimple-like bumps, and redness over the skin. Sometimes this also leads to swelling.
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    Overall symptoms that may appear after you have stopped using steroids are:

    • Red, raw, sunburn-like skin.
    • Skin flaking
    • Fluids oozing out of the skin
    • Blisters
    • Swelling resulting due to fluids collected underneath the skin. This happens in edema.
    • Swollen arms turn red-colored
    • The sensitivity to cold and heat increases.
    • Nerve pain
    • Irritated and dry eyes
    • loss of hair from the head and body
    • The lymph nodes get swollen on the armpits, groin, neck, and other regions of the body
    • Red, dry, and sore eyes
    • Trouble while sleeping
    • Change in appetite that leads to either weight loss or weight gain
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Fatigue-like problems.

    Other Names For Red Skin Syndrome

    red skin syndrome
    Daily Meal

    RSS or red skin syndrome is also known as topical steroid withdrawal or topical steroid addiction. This is because the symptoms are usually seen after an individual has started using steroids for any purpose or once they have withdrawn or put a full stop on the steroids.

    However, these terms cannot be entirely the same as RSS, they have a slightly different meaning that adds to them. Read carefully about each.

    • Topical Steroid Addiction- This is similar to the addition that comes once an individual starts using drugs or steroids. This simply means that your body has now become used to taking steroids and the effect they provide to your body. You just need to keep taking the drugs or steroids to give your body the effect it needs which results in addiction. When you stop taking the steroids further, the skin comes with a rebound effect causing the skin to turn red and the symptoms of it to reemerge.
    • Topical Steroid Withdrawal- This refers to all those symptoms that come into existence once a person has stopped using steroids or has gone for lower doses to reduce the amount gradually.

    Are You At The Risk Of Developing RSS?

    Using topical steroids to treat a particular skin condition and then decreasing their dosage or stopping them makes you susceptible to red skin syndrome. Although, you do not have to panic if you using one. It is not very common, not everyone that uses steroids to treat some skin problem will get RSS.

    Some factors that might increase the risk of you developing RSS are:

    • Using steroids daily for the long term. By long term, we refer to a year or more than that.
    • Using medium to high strength steroid doses.
    • using topical steroids when your skin is just fine and you do not need them to treat anything.

    As per National Eczema Association, if you are using topical steroids on your genital area or face, you are increasing the chances of getting an infection. Women are at higher risk of developing RSS as compared to men. It barely has any effects on children.

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    If you rub topical steroids on someone else’s skin such as a child, you have the chance of developing a skin infection. Make sure you wash your hands and take care of all the parts where you have touched after using them. Doing, it regularly may cause some syndrome such as RSS.

    Diagnosis Of RSS

    red skin syndrome

    Red skin syndrome occurs due to steroids as know very well by now, the doctors still have a hard time diagnosing it. Many times the doctors misdiagnose this skin condition that results in worsening of one’s skin infections. The foremost difference that separates RSS from other infections is it’s spreading, usually, RSS transfers to the body and keeps spreading.

    If you are going for a diagnosis to determine Red skin syndrome, the doctors will examine your skin first. The doctors might perform some patch tests, biopsy tests, or some other sorts of tests to find out the conditions looking at the symptoms and type of skin condition developed. This includes eczema flare, a skin infection, or allergic contact dermatitis.

    Treatments OF Red Skin Syndrome

    To stop RSS from happening and stop its symptoms that make your skin irritated and burning, you need to go off the steroids you have been taking. Red skin syndrome cannot be cured or stopped using remedies at home, you need to visit a doctor right away and under their supervision, you need to stop the doses of topical steroids once they ask you to.

    Although there is not a single treatment or cure that can get red skin syndrome cured completely, the doctors you reach out might suggest you some home remedies in combination with other medications which will help you have relief from itching, burning, and other symptoms of red skin syndrome.

    Tips And Medications

    If you are looking for some home remedies that may you relieve the pain at this moment, you may try the following:

    • Cool compresses using ice as it will help stop the burning sensations.
    • Balms and ointments to stop itching like vaseline petroleum jelly, jojoba oil, zinc oxide, hemp oil, and shea butter.
    • Colloidal oatmeal bath.
    • Epsom salt bath.

    Some over the counter treatments that work effectively and are common to RSS are:

    • Medications to relieve itching like antihistamines
    • Medications to get relief from pain like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
    • Antibacterial ointments.

    If the case becomes severe, you have to reach out to a doctor, they might prescribe you any of the following medications:

    • Antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline to prevent further infections on the skin.
    • Sleep aids
    • Immune suppressing medications and drugs

    You can also try to switch between different soaps, laundry detergents, and other stuff and toiletries that are ade specifically for people having skin infection and sensitive skin. Try wearing fabric or clothes made up of 100% cotton material as it may help to prevent the irritation to be caused further. These clothes are extremely soft on your skin and feel gentle, unlike heavy clothes.

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    Take Nutrients

    During the time you developed such syndromes, you need to fuel your body using nutrients as it is the time of imbalance in hormones and it requires healing. If you do not have nutritional support while going through any sort of treatment, red skin syndrome may even take few years to go completely.

    Having proper nutritional support will reduce the risk of losing hair, eyebrows. It will also help you recover faster.

    People having red ski syndrome can also become highly sensitive to many products in the market because they have certain chemicals that do not fit their skin. Also, while eating you need to make sure the food does not have some chemicals that can worsen the skin condition. These chemicals include salicylates, some preservatives, amines, MSG, and food additives.

    Look for supplements in the diet that has magnesium, molybdenum, zinc, vitamin B6, and other nutrients that are essential for your liver to detoxify steroid hormones and nitric oxide.

    If your liver does not have the important nutrients mentioned above, the process of deactivation will not occur properly which enables nitric acid and steroids to get released into your bloodstream once again. It is important that you take all these nutrients as the absence of essential nutrients will cause the skin to become less deficient in repairing itself and red skin syndrome will last for a year or longer.

    Cut Off Steroids (Not Old Turkey Way)

    While cutting off the topical steroids, do not go cold turkey way. This means gradually and slowly cutting down the usage and dosage of steroids rather than cutting them off completely all of a sudden. For instance, you can use a steroid that has lower strength, then keep taking it for the coming week or so. You can take this every second of the week and the next week you can reduce the dosage even more and so on.

    After 5 to 6 weeks of cutting the steroids slowly and gradually, now your body has adapted to not having them. You may stop using them.

    Are There Ways To Prevent Red skin Syndrome?

    red skin syndrome
    The Mirror

    You have seen the causes of developing red skin syndrome. The most prominent and main cause is using topical steroids. If you do not want your skin to turn red causing itching, burning sensations, and pain., all you need to do is avoid using topical steroids.

    If you are advised to use steroids for treatment of some other skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or some other type of skin condition, you are required to use the smallest possible dose instead of going for medium to high doses of steroids. Also, try not to use them in long term. This is the only way you can prevent red skin syndrome to affect your skin.

    The Bottom Line

    RSS varies from person to person in showing its effects. In some people, the itching and redness can take several months to even years to get rid of it completely and improve their condition while in some it goes without taking years.

    After it has gone completely you can expect your skin to become the way it was earlier in its usual state.


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