Meet Heather Petersen-Raising Awareness For Red Skin Syndrome

Today I’m sharing a post introducing my dear friend Heather Petersen who will be guest blogging here throughout the month of June. We are hosting a 30 day raw vegan challenge together and we invite you to join in on the fun! Make sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter here on the blog and you’ll get your free e-book with tips  and recipes on how to go raw for a day! Meet Heather…

Hey! I’m so excited it’s that time of year again,woo hoo! I’m going to post my Raw Food challenge for 30 days journal while raising awareness for Red Skin Syndrome. I’m starting June 1st, 2015. I hope you can join me so we can do it together, let’s Glow!

Can you believe this is my 3rd year as a guest blogger on I sure can’t. This time the food journal summary posts will be weekly and the recipes will be posted separately. I’m really looking forward to your feedback and questions.

Welcome to those new to Just Glowing with Health.  My name is Heather Petersen. I am a Certified Nutritional Counselor through AANC, a California State Licensed Esthetician and a Dr. Vodder trained and certified Lymphatic Therapist.However, I’m disabled recovering from Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) due to Topical Corticosteroid Addiction.

“What’s Red Skin Syndrome?” you ask. Excellent question.

Many skin rashes and other common forms of Atopic Dermatitis are treated with Topical Corticosteroids (the synthetic version of the hormone Cortisol prescribed to suppress the body’s immune response). Long term use of these creams, ointments, foams and sprays can lead to the body developing a dependency on the Corticosteroids. Dependency on this synthetic hormone can lead to a mess of problems which ends up being called “Topical Corticosteroid Addiction” and is identified by a Red Skin rash that looks similar to Atopic Dermatitis – thus the layman’s term “Red Skin Syndrome”. (Read more about it on the International Topical Steroid Awareness Network’s website   

Red Skin Syndrome

“How does can this happen?” you implore. Let me illustrate by summing up my personal experience

I developed Eczema, and as is the common allopathic western medical practice, my physician prescribed Topical Corticosteroid Creams and Ointments to treat the Eczema. Overtime as my Eczema got worse the physicians treating me continued to increase the strength of my topical prescriptions and added additional prescriptions of Oral Corticosteroids (Prednisone) and Intramuscular Corticosteroid Injections (Kenalog aka Triamcinolone). During the course of receiving prescribed Corticosteroids my body(in particular the Endocrine, Immune and Integumentary Systems) became dependent on the Corticosteroids and developed an “addiction” to them. All as a result of the misdiagnosis of Corticosteroid induced symptoms and the improper prescription of long-term Corticosteroid therapy. It led to the deterioration of my body and caused MANY problems, as you can imagine. (Read more about it on my blog )

What is the solution to these problems? Well like any person rehabilitating from drug addiction has to do, I had to stop using all forms of Corticosteroids “cold turkey” and go through drug withdrawals. In addition, I’m recovering from the other cellular damage done due to long-term Corticosteroid use. For example, my body has to relearn how to create and regulate its own hormones, skin, and cellular tissue while stabilizing the immune system.

I’m now under the care of several physicians including, Dr. Marvin Rapaport who is a Dermatologist and specializes in helping patients recover from Red Skin Syndrome due to Topical Corticosteroid Addiction. Dr. Rapaport has helped over 3,000 patients recover from Red Skin Syndrome. (Find out more about him at You can check out the YouTube Q&A Video about Red Skin Syndrome

“Will I recover and when?” you entreat.

Most patients recover from Red Skin Syndrome within 1-4 years, but it can take up to 7 years depending on the person’s age, years of usage and other health problems. The good news is that all Red Skin Syndrome patients can fully recover if they stop using Corticosteroids and their skin will even ultimately decrease or completely cease to have Atopic Dermatitis symptoms (which is the original problem the Topical Corticosteroid therapy is often prescribed for).

Christine and I have been friends for decades and have shared a lot of knowledge with each other through those years. She’s kindly been working with me since 2011 to help improve my health through diet modifications, Raw Vegan cleanses, water fasts and health education. 

What type of progress have I made? Well I’ve officially been off of Topical Corticosteroids since May 2012, which make this month my 3rd anniversary. YAY!

The road has been long, I have been bed ridden and house bound off and on through the last 3 years going through Red Skin “Flares”. You can read more details about this journey on my blog. I would say the most radical improvements are mentioned in my post from February 2013 here which sums up the first 2 years we started before I even stopped using the Corticosteroids. Since then it’s been about stabilizing my Immune, Integumentary and Endocrine systems, as well as addressing my mental and emotional health; can’t ignore the heart and mind when dealing with a chronic illness

Topical Steroid AddictionMy flares have gone from endless daily traumatic bedridden months to only a few months out of the year. Most recently I flared in December 2014 for about 12 week, at which time I required assistance from family and friends and spent the majority of the time in my bed or on the couch. It took about another 6 weeks to recover from the 12 week flare.

The quality of my skin has greatly improved: I don’t ooze, crack, swell, turn purple, burn, itch, rash or get infections nearly as much. This means I don’t have to wear bandages anymore, even when I’m not flaring. And I only need to wear cotton gloves when I leave the house about 75% of the time, though I’m still wearing vinyl gloves when using public restrooms or doing house work. I’ve been able to start wearing different fabrics this year other than cotton. The “emergency kit” that I carry in my purse has been reduced from a fully stuffed Gallon Ziplock bag to a small cloth zipper bag about 1/3 the size.

My Thyroid has its ups and downs. I went into an Autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s when I came off of Corticosteroids. With the help of Dr. Elizabeth Lyster from Holtorf Medical Group (, the Hashimoto’s is in remission. Though still struggling with a “Hypothyroid” condition, Cortisol level fluctuation and suppressed adrenals in between Red Skin “Flares”, Dr. Lyster is positive I will recover. She’s helping to support my body’s own natural healing process with immune boosting Herbal/Amino Acid compound formulas.

Topical Steroid Addiction

(Me on the left)

Since my adrenals are stabilizing the periodic insomnia has stopped. I only need 10 hours of sleep and only wake up 1-2 times a night – as opposed to the 18-20 hours of sleep I initially required with the every 2 hour itch flares I would wake up to. My energy levels are getting closer to normal and at times I can do activities for a few days in a row – as if I had never been sick. But I can make it about 2-3 days straight with a “normal” schedule before I need to be home and resting. I have to schedule activities around how much rest I will need in between them. Sometimes I will need a week of rest from just a couple of day’s activities. But I’m thankful I can do “normal” activities now. I used to just be a red oozing scratching burning stinging itching mess of a blob that laid in bed all day.

You can check out my blog intermittently over the next month as I will be posting a lot of commentary about my progress

Join me in raising awareness for Red Skin Syndrome  and in support of my Raw Food 30 day challenge journey with me to “Glowing Health”.

                                                         Heather Petersen


  1. Barbara on June 13, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Heather is such an inspiration! We are trying our best to stick to this challange and so far, so good.

Leave a Comment

I accept the Privacy Policy

Christine Roseberry

About Me

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.

Let’s journey together to glowing health. Learn More

Your Health Transformation Starts Here!


Sign up to get FREE healthy lifestyle tips and recipes!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.