The Benefits of Emu Oil in Treating Red Skin Syndrome
If you suffer from eczema or know someone who does, then you might be familiar with how debilitating it can be. Not to mention embarrassing in some instances.
Atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema) is a skin condition characterized by inflamed, itchy, cracked, and rough skin that may even lead to blisters.
It can be quite challenging to manage eczema, especially when topical steroids are often encouraged without forewarning.
Here’s the main issue: topical steroids escalate eczema and lead to medical conditions like red skin syndrome (RSS).
That’s why many people opt for gentler forms of treatment like emu oil.
“RESULTS AFTER ONE DAY!
I’ve tried everything under the sun for my daughter’s eczema. I originally purchased this when I read a clinical study that showed this oil held up against steroids in medical trials. I was amazed to see an improvement in her skin after just one day! My mother also burned her hand and when she put this oil on, she said the pain instantly stopped. Thank you, Carole, for such an amazing product. We couldn’t have asked for more.” - Kaitlin G.
What Is Red Skin Syndrome?
Red skin syndrome is a skin condition that results from long-term use of topical steroids.
Your medication gradually stops treating your eczema during its onset and eventually, your skin turns red and burns.
As if that’s not enough — new rashes even appear in previously-clear areas of the skin.
Just take a look:
The worsening condition is caused by corticosteroids (topical steroids), not uncontrollable eczema. The redness is due to an increase in blood nitric oxide levels.
Here’s how it works:
Nitric oxide widens your blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin — which causes the skin to appear red.
This effect coupled with a rash such as eczema becomes red skin syndrome.
You must be wondering,
“Why would any medical professional prescribe topical steroids in the first place?"
Honestly? Topical corticosteroids are useful in the short-term treatment of eczema symptoms such as itching and inflammation. This is because they’re a type of anti-inflammatory medication.
But that’s just about where the positive attributes stop.
What Side Effects Are Associated With Long-Term Steroid Use?
Eczema patients typically start their treatment on a low dose of steroid cream. But over time, the low dose becomes less effective, so patients have to graduate to a more potent option.
In case you were wondering, there are more than 30 different topical steroids used in the treatment of eczema.
They can generally be divided up into four groups based on their potency:
- Low-potency corticosteroids - e.g. hydrocortisone and prednisolone
- Moderate-potency corticosteroids - prednicarbate, methylprednisolone, and triamcinolone.
- High-potency corticosteroids - betamethasone and mometasone.
- Ultra-high-potency corticosteroids - clobetasol.
With extended use, the skin can build up a tolerance or become addicted to these steroids (topical steroid addiction).
And it doesn’t end there.
When one tries to stop using topical corticosteroids, this triggers topical steroid withdrawal syndrome (TWS).
The International Topical Steroid Awareness Network (ITSAN) defines TWS as,
“Topical Steroid Withdrawal Syndrome is characterized by red, itchy, burning skin that can appear after ceasing topical steroid treatments, or even between treatments.”
We know that’s a lot to take in — but bear with us. Let’s take a look at the different ways in which these symptoms may present.
Note: Different people experience different symptoms.
Symptoms of Red Skin Syndrome
- Worsening rash and increasing redness as your skin stops responding to topical steroids and other drug treatments.
- Severe burning sensations of the skin. This occurs due to ongoing vasodilation, which is often accompanied by intercellular and extracellular fluid retention.
- Dry and crinkling skin. You may also see underlying blood vessels.
- Skin depigmentation or dark pigmentation. This appears as either white patches on the skin or dark brown/grey areas of the skin commonly seen near the knees, elbows, and face, but can occur anywhere topical steroids are used.
- Stripe-looking stretch marks across the skin that may indicate low zinc levels.
- Your skin may appear puffy, swollen, and tender to the touch.
- Pimple-like bumps (papules), nodules, and pustules that mirror acne. They’re also known as steroid acne or pustular psoriasis.
- Premature aging of the skin (sometimes referred to as elephant skin). This is especially visible above the knees, arms, and hands but can occur anywhere on the body.
- Hair loss/thinning — your hair may fall out in clumps.
- Cracked skin, especially around the mouth, lips, and hands.
- Recurring skin infections that may require antibiotic treatment.
- A worsening itch with no relief in sight.
More on Topical Steroid Withdrawal
Here’s a video detailing everything you need to know on topical steroid withdrawal.
And now you’re thinking...
How Do You Treat Red Skin Syndrome?
Although RSS is frequently triggered by withdrawal from steroid creams, they’re not a suitable treatment option for the condition.
Yes, resuming steroid use may lessen RSS symptoms — but it’ll only prove more detrimental in the long run.
On the other hand, ceasing the use of topical steroids on your own can be quite harmful, depending on how your body has adapted to the treatment.
If you suspect that you or someone you care about may be suffering from RSS, consult your doctor.
Why is this important?
Your adrenal glands may be severely depressed, and abrupt cessation can place you at risk for an adrenal crisis — a life-threatening medical condition.
Thus, your doctor can run tests to gauge your cortisol levels and adrenal function and then develop a withdrawal plan based on those results.
Considering the potential drawbacks of long-term steroid cream use, it’s no surprise that many eczema patients look for alternative forms of treatment.
Inflamed and delicate skin caused by RSS needs to be treated with products that won’t cause further damage.
Emu oil is one effective option because it’s:
- Non-comedogenic (no clogged pores)
- Highly moisturizing
- Penetrating of all seven skin layers
But there’s a catch.
When choosing an emu oil, especially for red skin syndrome, make sure that it’s a high-quality, 100% emu oil product.
Emu oil certified by the American Emu Association (AEA) has been tested for purity and lipid values — so look out for the AEA seal.
“This oil will transform your skin. It is not hype. This stuff is absolutely amazing. I researched a ton to find the right source; the animals MUST be treated well, harvested for their meat as well, and not just killed for fat. This company is American and utilizes strict oversight protocols which is crucial for obtaining the best quality oil you can get. Plus...! Carole, who runs the farm, is such a delight. She’s personable, knowledgeable, and ethical. Lastly: I look years younger every time I put her emu oil on my face, so .... sold!!!!” - Shannon D
How Emu Oil Works
Studies reveal emu oil significantly improves itching, erythema, and scales linked to eczema.
Let’s break this down.
The oil itself is an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like linoleic acid, antioxidants, and compounds, like:
- Vitamin A
This medley of compounds works together to target inflammation caused by eczema.
Emu oil is also made up of smaller particles than many other topical creams — this allows it to penetrate deeper layers of the skin for more significant benefits.
How to Use Emu Oil to Treat Eczema
When treating eczema with emu oil:
- Wash the affected area with a mild soap formulated for sensitive skin.
- Gently towel dry.
- Immediately apply emu oil to the area.
This helps rehydrate the skin and reduce symptoms like inflammation that cause people to scratch their skin, only making the situation worse.
As far as skin conditions go, eczema can be a draining battle — but there’s hope through the storm.
There’s emu oil.