A woman has cleared her severe eczema for the first time in a decade, thanks to a simple face cream costing less than £10.
Eden Brown, 25, suffered with swollen, red and cracked skin for years - to the extent that, at one time, she was mistaken for a victim of domestic abuse.
But since using Balmonds Skin Salvation, an award-winning £7.99 ointment made from natural beeswax, seed oils and plant extracts, Eden feels like she has "completely new skin".
Diagnosed with eczema as a baby, Eden was prescribed topical steroids in 2012 when the condition became aggravated by exam stress and perfumed products.
While the creams worked wonders to reduce inflammation for a few weeks, Eden continued to experience flare-ups so severe she looked as though she'd been in a fight.
Eden said: "I was walking down the street in my second year at university in Aberdeen when someone handed me a leaflet saying 'Domestic abuse. No excuse.'
"I was shocked that somebody had given me this.
"Then I realised, it was because my face was so puffy and swollen. My lips were cracked and bleeding, too, so it looked like I had been beaten up.
"It was upsetting knowing that's how bad I looked, but domestic abuse is such a serious issue, I can only commend someone for being brave enough to try and help people in that situation - even if I only looked like I was."
As a child, Eden's eczema - which is mainly on her face, hands and neck - was easily controlled using E45 cream.
But when she reached 16 and she and her friends started using scented products, like smelly deodorants and hairspray, she would have severe weekly break outs.
With her eczema starting to affect her self-confidence, Eden visited her GP in 2012.
He prescribed topical steroid cream - but with regular coursework deadlines and exams at University, Eden's eczema only worsened.
She said: "When my skin was particularly bad at uni, I would be walking to lectures and people would not even recognise me."
Eden felt so self-conscious that that she "became a hermit" and struggled to make new friends.
She couldn't wear white tops for years because the neckline and sleeves would "literally turn yellow" as a result of her skin weeping.
However, her doctor offered no solution past using the steroid creams.
Last September, after seven years of topical steroid use, Eden decided to stop using the prescribed cream and focus on natural remedies instead.
She said: "I'd done some research online and decided topical steroids weren't right for my skin.
"I was sure that they were just offering temporary relief, instead of getting to the root of the problem."
Experiencing a savage flare-up of eczema shortly afterwards, she came across a blog about topical steroid withdrawal (TSW).
According to online healthcare service The Independent Pharmacy, it is a fairly rare reaction that happens after abruptly stopping an extended course of steroid treatment, with symptoms that can last for weeks, months or even years.
Eden said: "I saw a blog post about TSW on a skincare website and the more I read about it the more I thought, 'This is me.'
The post recommended Balmond's Skin Salvation, an award-winning £7.99 cream available at independent health shops and pharmacies, which had worked wonders for the person concerned.
"By the time I'd finished reading, I knew I had to give it a shot and I started using it," said Eden.
To her delight, the benefits were almost immediate.
"Within three days the skin on my hands were like a normal person's," she said.
"There's no way easy to cover your hands. It made a huge difference to my confidence, because your hands are one of the only parts of your body you see all day."
Within two months, Eden says the skin on her face looked better than it had in over a decade.
"It's the best my skin has ever looked or felt since my early teens," she said. "It's like I've got completely new skin.
"It's taken a long time, but I feel like the journey has been worth it.
"It's not just the outside of my body that has benefited from this - it's the inside, too."
Now, Eden hopes that telling her story will turn the focus on TSW.
"I've never overused steroids and only used them as instructed by multiple specialists and healthcare professionals," she said.
"It's such a misunderstood condition and it's unacceptable that people are still being so readily prescribed steroids when they should be an absolute last resort.
"I cannot believe it's taken so long to get to the root of what was causing my skin condition.
"I've self-diagnosed my TSW, but I'm 100 per cent sure it's the right diagnosis.
"If it wasn't for reading the post about Balmonds, no doubt I'd still be in the dark and using steroids myself."
To find out more about Balmonds Skin Salvation, click here.
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