Well I turned up at the hospital for my dermatology appointment looking a bit of a state and suddenly I am getting a result from staff (staff being nurse rather than the doctor as she flitted about but never actually spoke to me this time). The nurse was fantastic and sat and listened and took notes. Eventually she came up with a plan of attack which is as follows:-
1. a week on prednisolone steroid tablets (5mg) to calm me down
2. application of steroid cream to repair damage and get my skin clear again ready for:-
3. patch testing 14th May followed by
4. light treatment 15th May for 3 sessions a week
5. non steroid treatment thereafter
She also mentioned testing for allergy to some of the ingredients of the topical steroid creams I had been using and also the emollients (cetraben was beginning to make my face burn too but not sure if that was tcw symptoms or what).
1. Prednisolone I have taken once before when I attempted to go cold turkey and finished up 'red face syndrome' at my doctor's surgery. He immediately put me on this drug and then booked me in to see a dermatologist. Unfortunately, by the time my appointment came up at the hospital my skin had cleared to such an extent I don't think the dermatologist thought I'd got much of a problem and did not advise anything other than continue with steroid creams but up the strength as and when required. She told me then that patch testing wasn't worth it!
Anyway, I'm enjoying welcome relief from the prednisolone and looking presentable to the outside world again already.
2. I will use the steroid creams heavily for the next few days to repair my skin, ready for the patch testing but once my skin is clear, that's it, I'm off them!
3. I'm hoping the patch testing may give some enlightenment on what my skin is sensitive to and the nurse has said that hair dye is one of the tests. I don't know what the others are except I guess the usual, dust mite, grass/tree pollen, animal fur/dander etc. I'm also hoping there are a few others there that I hadn't even contemplated as being a problem.
4. Light treatment - that's a new one on me and haven't a clue how this will go but I'm willing to give it a go.
5. Non steroid treatment thereafter - a drug has been mentioned: azathioprine, not sure about this yet as I haven't done any 'googling' of it yet, but will do over the next few days.
I'm going out today for some retail therapy whilst I'm presentable and may well visit the gym for a session and meet us with friends. I missed 2 nights out this week and ducked and dived down the garden to avoid being seen by neighbours etc while in my monster mode and will celebrate while I'm looking better!
Thank you to everyone that sent me encouraging messages, sorry if I have not replied to them all. I have had tremendous support from family and close friends too (sadly boss was not so sympathetic even though I had booked this week off as holiday! Wait til he hears about me taking time off 3 times a week for treatment at the hospital!) I will continue to let you know my progress.
Thank you again!