Skin: Topical steroid addiction & cold sores (Herpes simplex)

A 60 year old financial planner was referred to me by his general practitioner because his facial herpes simplex (“cold sore” virus) was “out of control”. He wondered if wheatgrass might be able to help his patient.

The patient had been treated for “eczema” with the topical steroid betamethasone – a drug 600 times more potent than hydrocortisone – on his face and body almost daily for about 15 years. He used such large quantities trying to control his itchy, dry skin, his dermatologist prescribed 10 x 100gm tubes (one kilogram) of the topical steroid at each visit – a very large amount!

Three days earlier, he suffered a severe flare due to a herpes simplex (cold sore) virus infection of the eye known as eczema herpeticum. It also affected his face and upper body. Most likely the rapid, wide spread of the virus, was due to topical steroid atrophy, or thinning, of his skin which compromised his skin’s immune protection so it could not fight the virus. He had also been commenced on oral steroids (prednisolone 50mg) and antibiotics, by another doctor. Altogether, his immune system would most likely have been compromised.

At the first visit, (2002) he had a severe herpes simplex facial rash that was grossly inflamed, fissured and weeping in places.

(Fig. 1.) I commenced him on wheatgrass extract spray twice daily, but today, after many more years' experience, I would have recommended once or twice weekly. Oral steroids were reduced to zero over the following week as were topical steroids. The photographs below show rapid improvement in the first 4 days of wheatgrass treatment (Fig.2.) and thereafter. (Figs 3) shows complete control of withdrawal symptoms with even more recovery in  (Fig. 4.) - after 4 weeks wheatgrass.

eczema_flare(1)
eczema_flare (2)

Figures 1 and 2. Note dramatic improvement of patients facial skin after 4 days of wheatgrass extract treatment.

eczema_flare (3)
eczema_flare(4)

Figs. 3 & 4. 2 weeks and 4 weeks after commencing wheatgrass treatment.

Interestingly, the patient’s diagnosis was “eczema” - a condition rarely seen after 20 years of age. This man was 60, so one wonders why he was being treated for “eczema” – and with topical steroids!

Although these drugs may help reduce inflammation, they can very quickly atrophy or thin the underlying skin which then compromises its numerous protective functions. There is very good reason they should never be used on infant skin and avoided if at all possible, by adults.

View links below for more information about using wheatgrass extract for eliminating topical steroid use.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

>> Return to Cases & Conditions