Heather’s Update on the Raw Vegan Challenge

We’re in the middle of the 4th annual 30 Day Raw Vegan Challenge.  I’ve been posting to my Instagram @hp_vegivore and to the newly formed private Facebook group for all those who have enrolled in Christine’s E-program, “21 Days to Glow”. Have you checked it out?

21 Days to Glow

This year I’m following the “21 Days to Glow” E-program as my guide and testing out all the recipes that come along with it. It’s been great to have a fresh take on being Raw Vegan and not relying on my old standby recipes. I’m in love with the Cashew Sour Cream recipe and the Carrot Cardamom Smoothie. They’re both fabulous and the sour cream is uber versatile, I use it as the base of so many things.

How am I doing during this year’s challenge? Well as I type this, I’m on Day 18 of 30. I actually went straight into detox symptoms after just 3 days of raw. This is unusual for me, usually it takes nearly 2 weeks of raw for things to start moving and shaking. So it’s been exciting.

21 Days to Glow Raw Food Program

My body is doing well this year, I didn’t have any digestive issues being Raw this year. For those of you who have tried being Raw Vegan you may have noticed that your tummy is a little out of sorts when you first begin. It was cool to be totally fine with no tummy issues. I did go into a mild 3 day Red Skin Syndrome flare and spent 2 days in bed. But I recovered within a week. “Lady’s Days” were a breeze this month, zero cravings or cramps. Interestingly this year I have had zero food cravings going Raw. I think my body was just ready to jump in. I did have a couple of days of “food despondency” but that’s dissipated. Now I’m starting to have mild body aches and head aches.

This year I have 3 reasons why I participate in these Raw Vegan Challenges with JustGlowingWithHealth.com:

The new release of this awesome E-program “21 Days to Glow” from the creator of Just Glowing with Health is fantastic. It’s great for long time Raw Vegans AND newbies.

21 Days to Glow Raw Food ProgramSecondly, I see the good results every time I do a 30 day challenge. It makes sense when I experience the benefits, speed my body’s rejuvenation of healthy tissue, and get better. It also RESETS my eating habits and helps me stay on the “straight and narrow”.

Lastly, Christine Roseberry has graciously provided a forum to help me raise awareness for Red Skin Syndrome through glowingwhealth.wpenginepowered.com for the last 4 years. There’s so little known about it in the patient and professional medical community, I can’t refuse the opportunity to help bring awareness to this problem.

So let’s take a minute and use this opportunity to chat about Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) and raise some awareness to help others steer clear of this iatrogenic condition.

30 day raw vegan challenge


RSS (Red Skin Syndrome), also known as Topical Steroid Addiction (TSA) or Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW), is a debilitating condition that can arise from the use of topical corticosteroids to treat a variety of atopic dermatitis, post-surgical wound healing, cosmetic application, post-tattoo healing, post-depilation healing, etc.  RSS is an iatrogenic condition, which means it is a condition caused inadvertently by a medical prescription treatment or misuse of over-the-counter cortisone topical products. Not everyone who uses topical steroids will develop RSS.

(Topical steroids are also called topical corticosteroids, glucocorticosteroids, and cortisone. They come in many different preparations including creams, ointments, oils, gels, and lotions. Some are sold over-the-counter; others need a doctor’s prescription.)

30 day raw vegan challenge


RSS effects thousands of people around the world, of every age and background. It’s unclear why some people experience RSS secondary to topical steroid therapy and why others do not.

RSS can arise from topical steroid use in people with no prior skin condition; such as with cosmetic use for skin bleaching or to treat acne, or in the case of caregivers who neglect to wash their hands after applying topical steroids on someone else.


RSS is characterized by red, itchy, burning skin that can appear after ceasing topical steroid treatments, or even between treatments. In RSS, topical steroids are effective for a period of time to treat the skin condition. As time passes, however, applying topical steroids results in less and less clearing. The original problem escalates as it spreads to other areas of the body. In the case of eczema, this “progression” is often mistaken for worsening atopic dermatitis.


Topical steroids are prescribed for use on “particular spots” of the skin and are not meant for application to the entire surface of the skin, injection or to be taken by mouth. Some examples of topical steroid preparations used on the skin are: creams, ointments, oils, gels, sprays and lotions.

Topical steroids act in a complicated way with the endocrine system, immune system and blood vessels in the skin to treat inflammation.


Corticosteroids, often known as steroids, are an anti-inflammatory medication prescribed for a range of conditions. They’re a synthetic, or man-made, version of hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands. Steroids mimic natural hormones produced in the body, including glucocorticoids (such as cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (such as aldosterone).

Topical steroids can reduce inflammation (redness and swelling), suppress the immune system, and narrow the blood vessels in the skin. Their main purpose is to reduce skin inflammation and irritation.


Topical steroids are absorbed into the cells of the skin. The mechanism of the anti-inflammatory activity of the topical steroids, in general, is unclear.  It’s believed that topical steroids stop skin cells from producing various inflammation-causing chemicals that are normally released when the skin reacts to allergens or irritation.

These inflammation-causing chemicals, including prostaglandins and leukotrienes, cause blood vessels to widen (vasodilate) and signal other inflammatory substances to arrive. This results in the affected area of skin becoming red, swollen and itchy. By preventing these inflammatory chemicals from being released in the skin, topical steroids reduce inflammation and relieve related symptoms such as itchiness.


ITSAN raises awareness of Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) and supports individuals as they progress through the phases of Topical Steroid Addiction and Withdrawal (TSA/TSW). Officially co-founded by dermatologist Dr. Marvin Rapaport (UCLA Medical Center professor and researcher of Red Skin Syndrome) and Kelly Palace (Red Skin Patient), ITSAN has grown into a wide, online community of RSS sufferers around the world contributing ideas, funds, and inspiration. Many of these people are board members, volunteering many hours per week to help spread the word.

30 day raw vegan challenge


ITSAN is trying to foster physician and patient education to reduce the chances of people getting Red Skin Syndrome. It is also trying to roll out programs to aid patients’ recovery, physician medical data collection, AMA recognition and other dermatological community recognition and patient support groups. This all takes consistent monthly commitments of funds.

Many places of employment and your local business have programs set up to donate to 501c3 Nonprofit organizations, which they in turn receive tax breaks for participating. Contact your Human Resources Department and bring up www.itsan.org and the potential of making monthly or yearly contributions. ITSAN will work with them to provide all the necessary documentation upon their donation participation.

You can personally donate online at https://itsan.org/donate/

In order to foster this education, people need to know that ITSAN exists. People need to bring the topic up to their friends and family.  Why not ‘share’ ITSAN’s website, Facebook and/or Instagram with your social network? It’s free to share information.

Is it really important to help ITSAN?

Well one of the top prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs of choice to aid epidermis and dermis healing is Topical Corticosteroid application. For instance, recently my mother fractured her toe and the doctor gave her a topical corticosteroid cream to apply for inflammation. (Of course, my mom didn’t use it.) They’re just so prevalent that the potential for people to suffer from RSS is exponential.

Addiction can be caused in less than 2-4 weeks, depending on patient age and health condition. Most people don’t understand the side effects because even the medical community itself is just becoming aware of this condition. In fact the FDA recently released a paper from the Japanese Dermatological society for American physician reference about Red Skin Syndrome and the physician “call to action” in Japan. This is a global problem and ITSAN is currently the only pillar source online reaching out to both the physician and patient international community.

Spread the word! Red Skin Syndrome is a disorder that can be completely ERADICATED through education and awareness in both the physician and patient communities.

— HP

Heather Petersen

Facebook: Heather Petersen HP Esthetics
Instagram: HP_vegivore
Twitter & Pinterest: HP Esthetics

You can read about my past 48 months at www.eczemancipated.com For more information on TSA/RSS, check out www.itsan.org, the International Topical Steroid Addiction Network.


  1. Kathy on June 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you Heather! My son also suffered with RSS. His recovery has me on a crusade to educate others, especially the medical community, about this overlooked disease. I applaud your efforts to educate others and raise awareness. We all need to do every bit we can, because RSS is preventable!! No one should have to suffer through the horrendous, protracted withdrawal from steroids. Everyone, please visit ITSAN.org to learn more and to donate!

  2. Bill on June 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Do people really give to organizations like itsan without fact-checking? It’s ran by 1 woman named Joey who needs zero expenses to operate it. She takes trips with the money and attends conferences on skin. These are just mini-vacations. I would prefer to contribute my money to an organization that actually uses that money to make a difference in people’s lives.

    • Heather Petersen on June 21, 2016 at 12:04 am

      Hi Bill. I’m unsure where you get your information from. Right now the organization is in its grass roots and barely gets any donations. There are many people who volunteer to run the online forum for free. The trips to Washington d.c. are to attend medical conferences. I have personally been in contact with physicians who are specialists from places such as Sloan Kettering Hospital in NY who are interested in data collection and seeing Red Skin Patients. These physicians were contacted as a result of Joey Brown VanDyke taking these trips and representing the Red Skin Syndrome sufferers and their care givers at such conferences. Also, If it weren’t for the nonprofit organization, originally founded by Dr. Rapaport and Red Skin Syndrome patient, Kelly Palace, the publishing of the http://www.itsan.org website never would have happened. Then the proper diagnosis of my disorder may never have happened nor would I be in recovery. The donations went into the building of a website and monthly newsletter, hosting and maintanence. Try signing up for the free newsletter for 12 months and see what is being accomplished. This may help you make a more informed decision. ITSAN is accomplishing things slowly. Every organization must start somewhere. ITSAN has had a rocky beginning and who knows it may not exist forever. Donations are not necessary to participate in the education process or to help raise awareness. Thousands internationally of all ages and walks of life are needlessly suffering from Red Skin Syndrome. Just talking about it amongst your circle is enough to help. Iand that’s really the point, right? We are just raising awarenesd by talking about it. I started my blog http://www.eczemancipated.com in 2012 and since then 4 people from my own circle of friends and friends of friends figured out they had the same thing and were able to begin recovery. That was all done for free and by word of mouth. So it’s ok if you just want to talk about it and not donate. We appreciate all the effort and lengths people go to to raise awareness for Red Skin Syndrome. Thank you Bill for taking the time to read the article and learn about Red Skin Syndrome. It is greatly appreciated!

  3. Loren MCCORMAC on June 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for helping raise awareness of red Skin syndrome! My son has been suffering with it for way to long. I will never get over how much damage these drugs do to the body and how long the body takes to heal from them. Thanks again! Loren and Kline ps we are vegan and you make raw vegan look sooooo yummy! Maybe next year I’ll be able to do the raw challenge with you!

    • Heather Petersen on June 21, 2016 at 12:08 am

      Aw that’s so sweet Loren. It would be cool if you could join us next year. I hope your son’s recovery comes to its completion soon. It’s a beast! No one should have to suffer like this.

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Christine Roseberry

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Hi, I’m Christine, thanks for stopping by! As a fibromyalgia thriver (symptom-free for over 10 years now thanks to diet and lifestyle changes), it is my passion to share the healing power of food.

As an RN and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, it is my desire to empower you to take charge of your life.

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