5 points worth knowing about the fear of cortisone
Point 1: natural cortisone
Our bodies make cortisone, in the form of cortisol – it serves as a fuel, giving us a boost in the morning at 8 am, then staying stable for the rest of the day, with a slight dip at around 3 am. It’s a hormone that’s involved in the metabolism of sugars, fats, sleep and immunity. It is also a response to chronic stress (everyday life) whereas adrenalin is a response to acute stress (a lorry is heading straight for you).
It has significant anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is used in medications. It is available in tablet form, internally (by injection) or externally (creams and ointments), the two routes being totally unrelated in terms of both dosage and side effects.
Point 2: it is destroyed by inflammation
The main concept behind this sheet is that when cortisone is applied to the skin it is destroyed by the inflammation. It is therefore perfectly safe to apply it liberally to all patches, in large quantities, once a day until the patch has completely disappeared. Do not be scared to use it again as soon as a patch comes back.
It makes perfect sense therefore to wonder whether it’s a good idea to reapply cortisone before there is any sign of the patch recurring! The answer is just as clear: if you could look at your skin under a microscope you’d see that the inflammation was still smouldering away like embers in the fireplace. Don’t hesitate to apply it twice a week to any areas where patches regularly reappear.
Point 3: why does it get such bad press?
It isn’t a cure:
Controlling eczema requires more than just moisturising the skin and treating it with cortisone.
We also need to identify the triggering factors and try to prevent them, and it’s a long list:
Of these factors, diet can sometimes be incriminated:
• Through increased acidity in sweat owing to excessive consumption of acidifying foods,
• Through the inflammation itself, owing to excessive consumption of bad fats.
It stops the toxins getting out:
Here’s something you often hear: “it has to get out otherwise the toxins will get in and that’s dangerous” – Hippocrates was the first to describe the skin’s emunctory function, 2,500 years ago…
It’s true that toxins come out through the skin, in sweat and sebum. However, cortisone does not affect the functioning of the sweat or sebaceous glands. So, cortisone or no cortisone, the toxins will come out just as they should.
Point 4: but surely there must be another way?
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disease, something that is difficult for both parents and patients to hear.
Every time there is a flare-up, you have to go through the check-list again: what’s the triggering factor? Could it have been foreseen? Do the digestive flora need treating again?
Some people get good results using other types of medicine, but whatever you choose, the key to managing the condition remains the same:
• The skin is dry: avoid exacerbating the dryness and be sure to moisturise thoroughly every day. Choose a gentle soap-free cleanser, don’t stay in the shower for more than 5 minutes, pat yourself dry quickly, apply the emollient to your skin while it’s still damp, all over the body, every day, including on the patches of eczema.
• You have to listen to your body and understand how your skin reacts
• There’s no point in suffering, take care of yourself
• If you use cortisone, apply it once a day, every day, for as long as it takes to make the patches go away, put plenty on the skin surrounding the patches too (not all the eczema can be seen), don’t be sparing with it, and don’t hesitate to apply it twice a week afterwards as a preventive measure.
• If stress is one of your triggering factors, start doing something to relieve it (sophrology, hypnosis, etc.)
• Look after your digestive flora.
Point 5: but the real reason behind the fear of cortisone comes from…
Doctors themselves. Research has shown that diverging opinions in the medical profession only add to parental confusion. The specialist centres for managing atopic dermatitis in France are all therapeutic education centres.
Notions underlying this information sheet
• The triggering factors are as follows:
Anything that exacerbates dry skin: cold, water, soap, chemicals, perfumes, dust, DIY, pollen, friction, scratching
Anything that disrupts the skin’s natural balance: sweat, under the effect of a diet too high in acid
Anything that damages the intestinal flora: too much acid in the diet, antibiotics, stomach upsets, etc.
• Diet: two types of food should be avoided, as they exacerbate eczema.
Acidifying foods: sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks, bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, energy bars, honey, tomatoes, citrus fruits (lemons, mandarins, oranges, grapefruit)
Inflammatory foods: all processed food products, any oil that isn’t first cold pressed, too much red meat, too much dairy, cured meats.