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Avatar universal

I have OCD. And cant move on after vulva ruined by steroids.

I used as steroid cream my Dr gave me. I knew I didn't need it, but still used it. 5 to 6 days and now my vulva is thinned. I keep trying to go back in time to prevent this mess. I keep ruminating and obsessing.  I cant forgive myself and cant move forward. How can I accept the skin damage and move on. My family thinks it should be so easy to deal with being ruined and burnt on your genitals. I should just accept it and move on.
4 Responses
20803600 tn?1546266137
How long were you on the steroids? It may just be a temporary reaction/discoloration. Have you seen your doctor again about the problem?
If not, I would suggest you do, They may be able to offer some other way to repair the issue.
I've been to 2 dermatologists and they say that 6 days of Betamethasone and clotrimazole (lotrisone)  could not cause thinning.  My new midwife said it looks thin. I will never go back to the gyno who prescribed the cream. I tried to tell him all I wanted was a culture. He wouldn't listen to me and insisted it was dermatitis.  All tests at new Dr came back negative.  The skin is shiny,  gets irritated easily, and burns and tingling from time to time. I can see veins at the surface on my labia . It's been 2 months and I cant move on.
Look, I don't want to sound hostile to midwives here, but how would one know if your vulva was "thinning?"  One would have had to have seen it before and have some way to measure it to know that.  Also understand that there are no "tests" for dermatitis, which just means you had some inflammation and probably irritation there.  It isn't a diagnosis as much as a description.  I think you probably did the right thing by stopping the cream, it sounds like it irritated your skin.  It will probably get better with the proper treatment, whatever that might be -- it might be just some aloe vera gel applied topically until the irritation goes away.  It could be an infection of some kind, perhaps fungal.  A second opinion from a different doc would probably be useful to you.  If it's just irritated skin, you can fix that with gentle natural methods.  I also don't think you're describing OCD, but you are describing a very frightened reaction that seems largely based on what might not be a credible opinion from a midwife.  Before panicking, I'd get a second opinion from a doc.  If nothing is found, you might consult someone in the natural medicine field who can fix this without irritating substances, or you might find a different doc can do this as well.  I hope I'm right and this isn't as bad as you're making it sound.  Once you do that, given you're posting on an anxiety website, if you react this way as a matter of habit you might benefit from therapy to try to learn how to be a less anxious person.  But before freaking out as you're doing, get another opinion on what's going on.  By the way, you didn't mention why the cream was applied and what steroid you're referring to -- is it cortisone?  Or sexual hormones?
I guess I should add, although this reaction doesn't sound like OCD, you might have been diagnosed with it for other chronic behavior.  If that's so, are you in treatment for it?
It was betamethasone and clotrimazole the Doc thought it was dermatitis. It actually turned out to be BV. I used it for 5 to 6 days 2 times per day.  The sad part is I knew he was wrong. He told me if it doesn't clear up we can do a biopsy. As soon as I heard that, I started to obsess about that. So, I opted to at least try the steroid. Now, I'm living in regret land with lots of anger and repetitions. Trying to go back and do things differently. Having conversations with myself on what I could of done differently. What i could have said to the Dr. My husband is overseas and I am completely alone. J have no support at all. I go to therapy. She said things happen, its life. It sucks and you need to move on. I keep reliving the week of Oct 23 over and over in my head. I know the date that I live in, but my brain is stuck in October. I cant wake up from this nightmare.  I know something is wrong with the skin. It was fine before the cream. I'm going to a better dermatologist at the end of the month.
20803600 tn?1546266137
Not a mid wife at all. Some people react negatively to steroids, or it could be an inactive ingredient in the cream.
Steroids don't typically cause discoloration or thinning, as far as I am aware.
The vulva is a sensitive area and  I agree, a follow up with a new gun might be the best option to see if what she believes is happening, is in fact a  result of the steroid.
That should say GYN,  not the auto corrected word above.
Which doctor would be better a gyno or a dermatologist?
You know, in your situation, maybe both.  I hope the worst isn't what this is.  It sounds like irritation to me, not thinning of the tissue.  While cortisone shots can cause thinning of tissue, the creams generally don't.  But any cream can irritate you.  You can have an allergic reaction to it.  It might not be the right place to apply the particular cream.  But if you have an infection, the treatment for that is antibiotics.  Those in turn can cause irritation in that area as well, as they kill off the good bacteria with the bad which can lead to other opportunistic infections, such as yeast.  So if you do get antibiotics for the infection, take some good probiotics from the refrigerated section of your best local health food store as well and keep taking them for awhile.  Stay away from sugar for awhile, it attracts the bad guys.  Eat cultured and fermented foods, they feed the good guys.  But what you need now is a good solid diagnosis of it all and a treatment plan.  Worrying this much will just make you suffer twice.  I know, that's really easy to say, I wish I could do that, so I also hope you fix your anxiety problem so when life goes wrong, and look, it does eventually for everyone more than a few times, you can handle it better.  All the best.
I got treatment for my infection.  I've been tested and tested for everything. It burns and is prickly feeling, all the time. Leading me to panic because everything isn't the same anymore. I'm still trying to go back to October and tell myself not to use the cream. Every hour or so. My husband says I go thru every stage of grief except acceptance  in every rant I make. Anger at myself and the Dr. Is eating me up. I don't want to go back on meds. I got off of Lexapro a few months ago and was doing great, until I picked the wrong Dr. Now my world is crumbling down. I cant enjoy anything because this is consuming me. Everytime I feel the pain after 2 months of trying to heal it keeps taking me back.  In therapy I was taught to ignore my negative thoughts. That's just my brain lieing to me. So, when my intuition was going off telling me to stop putting the cream on, I didn't listen.  The Dr surely had said it was safe. Until I started burning and burning. Regret and anger are consuming me. And your right, my anxiety level is through the roof. My lorazepam is barely working. Just knowing that this feeling in my most sensitive area could feel like this for the rest of my life is terrifying. I went to a new gyno after the burning 1st started. He said betamethasone was the wrong treatment and all I needed was an antibiotic.  He said all that does in that area is thin the skin because it's too strong. It messes up the collagen and elastin in the skin. He said it will heal, but remain thin. Then, I went to a dermatologist and she said no, it won't thin you in that short of time. But then looked at me and said, you are thin, but it cAnt be from the cream. Um, ok. I wasnt like this before.  So, now I'm going to my 3rd dermatologist. I'm praying my skin will bounce back. I just don't know how I let this happen.  I've had these infections before and no Dr ever gave me steroids. It has taken me since 7 am just to type this because every few minutes I'm back in October trying to tell myself not to use the cream. I'm constantly thinking about it. It is now 915am . I get in the shower and I'm there for a long time just ruminating trying to tell myself to stop, asking myself why I let this happen.  I keep burning whatever I cook. I cant enjoy a movie or shopping or playing with my kids.  I just cant stop thinking, and feeling anger. I cant get anything done.
I understand.  Many years ago I lost much of my life because I had the wrong doctor at the wrong time.  But the holding on o it is your anxiety talking, not what happened.  Again, bad things happen to everyone eventually, but it's anxious people who destroy their lives over it.  The others move on as best as possible.  Now, I have no idea what's going on with you physically.  it's very hard, and Ive been through this as well, when one doc says one thing and another says another.  Has any of them said what the consequences of thinning skin are?  Are there any?  But here's a thing in life -- when one form of medicine doesn't work, there are others to try.  One way to fight recurring infections is to keep taking antibiotics.  If you keep complaining about itching or irritation, eventually some doc is going to recommend steroids.  That's all they know how to do.  But there's an older form of medicine that involves building up the system rather than trying to kill the bad things that come into it.  When this works, you stop getting the recurring problem.  Natural medicine tries to build you up.  Allopathic medicine tries to kill the bad things even if they can't find the bad things -- medical school doesn't teach anything but invasive medicine.  I don't know if you can afford it, but a doctor who practices integrated medicine, meaning the study both worlds of medicine, might be where you have to go now.  You've probably done some damage to the beneficial organisms that protect you from this infection.  Antibiotics kill them off and sometimes they don't come back unless we intervene in some way to make it more likely for that to happen.  So there might be things you can accomplish with both types of medicine used together.  But when you become so anxious or angry you start to dwell in that and avoid the problem, everything stays the same.  Let me give you an example.  I suffer from horrible anxiety and I avoid like crazy.    Many problems I can fix myself better than docs can because I know this other form of medicine enough to do so, but when I need allopathic medicine, my bad experiences and anxiety bring me to be too scared to do it anymore.  Now, I'm old and burned out.  But my wife doesn't suffer from anxiety.  When she got problems in the area you're talking about, due to thyroid problems and menopause, she tried the docs and they had no answers.  I told her about calendula oil, a simple thing really, and although it hasn't cured her, it has gotten rid of most of her symptoms.  Because she isn't anxious, she does things about things.  I'm hoping you get to that point as well.  And I would also say, meditation teaches that you don't avoid negative thoughts, that's a negative response, not a positive one.  Instead you just look at the negative thoughts until they dissipate.  You replace them with positive thoughts.  Very hard to do, but if you can do that, you will beat that anxiety part of this.  The physiological I don't know about, but with anxiety, while meds are often necessary when we can't fix what's wrong, they don't cure anything, only changing how you think does that.  There are people with horrible diseases who are happy and those with them who are defeated.  All the best.
Avatar universal
One concept is "thinking a thought strengthens the thought."

This can run away, where thinking the thought ("I don't like the way I look down there") strengthens the thought, causing one to think of it more, in an endless cycle.

The trick is to break this cycle. Take time out from thinking about it. The less one thinks about it, the more the idea fades away.

"Distraction" or "Redirection" is one method. Distract oneself from thinking about it by engaging in something else, occupy the mind with some other task, or story, or TV, or book.

Another thing that may help is practicing Mindfulness Meditation. One way is 'Return your focus to the present moment. When your mind wanders, return your focus to the present moment." Focus on what you see, hear, smell, feel. Or scan your body from top to bottom, noticing how you feel. When a thought enters your mind, let it go, and return your focus to the present moment.

Another variation is if you notice you are obsessing on this idea, take a step back and just notice that you are obsessing on this idea (that you don't like how you look down there), and just allow it to be, as in "Wow, I am really obsessing over this. I am noticing that I am really obsessing over this. I am amazed at this, and in awe of how powerful that thought is."

Note this isn't a "Rationalize the thought away" or "think of a solution", this is just noticing. (hard to explain).

(There's an app called "Headspace" you can download and try. There are brief animated videos explaining the concept at the beginning of lessons 1,3,5,7,9. There are other meditation apps one can try too. I'm not trying to advocate or sell any particular one. I just like the animated videos at the beginning of the odd numbered Headspace meditations. They're free to watch.)

The benefit of meditation is if one can do it daily then over about 2 months it will strengthen certain parts of the brain, making it a lot easier to deal with obsessive thoughts.

It's not so much how we look down there, as it is we may attach a huge emotional significance to how it looks down there. One idea is to uncouple that emotional significance, so nothing physically changes, we just don't have such a huge emotional significance attached to it anymore, which frees us, as we then no longer obsess over it.

So my two ideas are "Distraction / Redirection" and Mindfulness / Meditation (which I admit the connection isn't apparent at first how this will help, but it's been known to help significantly.)
Thank you for these ideas.  I don't care how it looks down there. Its how it feels. When it feels normal I don't think about it. But when it burns or feels weird I obsess over the fact that I could have thinned the skin. It just feels irritated most of the time. So, I try to take my mind off of it, only to freak out every time it hurts. I'm going to the Dr next week. Hopefully they can give weed me some answers.  I'm going to try your app ideas. Thank you so much.

Thank you for explaining I understand now it's how it feels that concerns you.

I do have some points on that.

First of course find out if it's OK or not. I assume the doctor can examine that and determine if it's really OK or not.

Then, the knowledge I have applies if it's OK but still feels weird.

Of course if it's not OK and feels weird, then we fix it. What I know about is the case where the body has healed itself and is fine, except it still hurts like hell, for no reason whatsoever. Then it's a "chronic pain" condition.

(My wife had that, where her upper left arm hurt like hell, and she needed major pain medication for it, but there was nothing wrong with her arm, other than it hurt like hell, for no reason. Later a professor at our local university had a chronic pain in his shoulder, which hurt like hell.)

The good news is this type of chronic pain is now curable. Entirely curable. This only recently discovered within the past few years.

The explanation is, the brain has a map of the body in it. What we perceive as reality is actually that map of our body in our brain.

We know people who lose a limb, such as an arm or leg, often report that they have a "phantom limb". In their reality they still have a limb even though it's been amputated. They report they can put this phantom limb through walls or the floor. This is because their brain still has a full map of their body, including the limb that is no longer physically present.

The opposite can also happen, where a patient has a stroke that damages their body map. For example, the stroke may destroy the body map for their left arm. The patient then no longer recognizes their left arm as belonging to them. In their reality, they don't have a left arm, because their body map in their brain no longer has a left arm. They may ask the nurse to take away the lunch tray, and this arm that does not belong to them.

If we feel pain in our body, the pain is actually coming from our brain's body map. As long as our body map corresponds well to our actual body, this arrangement works well. It fails when our brain body map no longer corresponds to our actual physical body.

In chronic pain, it's our body map that has become damaged. The body map can become damaged in such a way that it makes us feel pain even though there's actually nothing wrong with our physical body.

To cure this, we use a real estate metaphor. The brain has limited real estate to do stuff with. In chronic pain, a part of the brain has become wired to process pain in a certain part of the body. Right next to that area is a part of the brain that is used to visualize things in our mind. The idea is, when we feel the chronic pain, we force ourselves to visualize something. We are essentially telling our brain that visualizing something is more important than feeling pain. We must be relentless in doing this. It will take 2 weeks before we notice any difference. A couple months of this and we can completely reverse the chronic pain. The brain will decide to unwire that part of the brain that is used to process pain, and use it instead to process visualizing stuff in our mind.

The other related explanation for this is "neurons which fire together, wire together." We do the opposite of this, "neurons which fire apart, wire apart." So when we are experiencing chronic pain, we force our mind to visualize something. This breaks the "firing together", so it eventually "wires apart".

A better explanation is in chapter 1 of the book by Norman Doidge M.D., How the brain heals itself. (2015). (I think that's the title. It's his 2nd book, the one that came out in 2015. I saw a lecture by him at our local university when he was on a book tour in 2015.)

Another explanation is by the university professor, UCSB, Paul Hansma. He has some videos. There's a 7 part video of a lecture he gave at our local library on youtube.

So in your case, I suppose, this isn't a chronic pain issue, the relation is if it's determined the body has healed itself fine, and there's nothing really wrong down there, but it still feels weird, then know that weird feeling is coming from the body map in the brain, which may no longer be properly aligned with the actual physical body. And it's definitely real, because that body map is our reality. And at the same time, it's not real, because our actual body may be fine.

And the brain can rewire itself, and we can force it to unwire problems, if we put our mind to it, in a clever way. We can break the obsessive cycle by forcing ourselves to think of something else. It will take 2 weeks of this before any changes actually happen, which can be very discouraging, but knowing this can help us persist for those initial 2 weeks. Then we should start to slowly notice a change. The change is slow, but it can be made to happen. (Paul mentions biofeedback, which is another way to train the brain. I'm certainly no expert in this. I just read a lot of books.)

(There is a strangeness, in that Mindfulness Meditation we step back and observe what we are feeling, and closely examine the feeling, and become very familiar with the feeling, with all its details and nuances. This can greatly help in reducing our suffering, as we find it's just a feeling. But to eliminate that feeling, we do the opposite, we force ourselves to visualize the feeling shrinking, visualizing it is the key, and being relentless on insisting we visualize it shrinking away, and it eventually unwires itself and complies. I don't fully understand how one does both. I think we start with Mindfulness, then switch to visualizing it away.)

OK hope that helps. I'm no expert. Hopefully this gives a new way of thinking about it and understanding it.
Don't think you have the phantom limb pain thing right.  It's not that the brain maps the limb and doesn't know it's gone, it's that the nerve pain leading to the limb still hurts.  It shouldn't, but it does because irritated nerves often don't heal as they should.  Most of the people with chronic pain other than those with a disease that is actively progressing such as cancer have muscle and nerve problems that are real, even if the term phantom is used.  The nerve was or is irritated.  The muscles were or are tight and not relaxing, and this can also be because of malfunctioning nerves or because of overuse injuries that are often misdiagnosed as being caused by structural problems such as disc deterioration.  The hard part for docs is finding the actual cause of the pain.  But the memory is from real pain that the brain is still experiencing,.  Some surgeons deal with this by going in and blocking the nerve.  Some drugs attempt to do this as well.  Of course, this can cause other problems, as most medicine does, because the nerve was needed and isn't working now.  Sometimes there are just problems with the central nervous system.  Fibromyalgia is in part thought to involve this.  The brain can rewire things, but that doesn't mean it will.  It means it can.  For some it will, for others it won't.  It probably depends on the person and what caused the problem in the first place.  You can't meditate away a problem that is actually there.  As for Mindfulness, it's basically the meditation the Buddha originally is famed for claiming it brought him enlightenment -- watching your breath.  When thoughts intrude, you gently go back to watching your breath.  Not easy to do, especially for Westerners, but it's pretty much the same for all meditation -- you focus on something and when thoughts intrude you gently go back to focusing on whatever it is you're focusing on.  A Tibetan meditation focuses on staring at an object.  TM focuses on a mantra.  They're all pretty similar.  For pain relief, hypnosis has proven to be effective for some people, as it operates on suggestions planted while you're in a very relaxed and detached state and bypasses your conscious brain altogether.  Lots of possibilities.  But for this poster, it sounds like a skin irritation or infection, and you can't meditate that away, you have to treat it.  I'm only saying this to point out that it's not a great idea to ignore a problem and think it's all in your head, even when a doc says it is.  They're usually wrong -- studies show this.  You really do have to eliminate physiological causes before you attribute it to a thinking problem.  But again in this case, it appears to be the combination of something that is wrong in that area given all the docs are treating it that way, though differently and a problem obsessing over it.  The latter can be helped greatly by meditation, the former can't.  But again, if allopathic medication can't fix it, natural medicine might.  All medicine is just medicine, though in their competition for dollars they cast aspersions on one another.  If it's just irritated skin, again, something as simple as calendula oil or aloe vera extract might do the trick.  If it's more, it will need more.  All the best to all.
Avatar universal
Hi, I am so sorry to hear how you are suffering over this problem. I am confused about a couple of things, though. I may have read it wrong, but are you saying that you can't stop yourself from using the cream? If that is the case, I would definitely throw it away. Also, I understand how it is itching and burning, but is it interfering with intercourse with your husband? This would be a big problem. You have had many great suggestions on here, in particular meditation. I have anxiety too and meditate to relaxation videos on Amazon. Very effective. But, I am still thinking the skin will heal itself in good time as the cells replace themselves. It means that you would need to stop touching it and aggravating the skin even more. I had a problem like this many years ago and went to my doc. It turned out I was using soap that I was allergic to. She told me only to wash on the outside of the genitals. Also, I have since found a very good body wash that you might like to try because it is anti-allergic. It is called Cetaphil Extra Gentle Body Wash. Good luck.
I threw it away in the trash! It started to burn after 5 to 6 days of use. I keep wanting to go back to that day and argue with the Dr. I'm stuck in October.  I experienced a trauma to my genital area. It doesn't hurt all the time. It tingles and feels weird. The skin is red and shiny.  The way it looks doesn't bother me. Just not knowing what the future holds for the area. Will it continue to thin? Will it get worse? Will I have pain in that area? I don't know the answers and it is invading my every waking moment. I keep going around and around. I cant let it go.
I went to another Dr and he wanted to give me more  potant steroids. I told him that's how I got into this mess.  He seemed puzzled that I refused the steroids after being burned by the first one. He tried offering me all kinds of medications without even swabbing me . I told him ,you just cant throw all kinds medicine at it without knowing what it is. I went and seen a different Dr. And he was a breath of fresh air.  Everything by the book and he doesn't like the idea of steroids in that area. I've been getting better with my anger and some of my ruminations.  Thank you to all for the advice. I really appreciate it! I'm trying really hard.
Wow, you seem to have come a long way to solving this problem with the help of your new doctor. And kudos to you also on telling the last doctor what you thought. One of your big problems, I remember, was keep going back to the fact that you didn't speak up when the first doctor gave you steroids. Well, you have certainly been proactive now, and advocated for yourself. Something to be really proud of as many people are afraid to say what they think to authority figures.

Now, reading back over everything again, I have a couple of comments. I agree with someone else that it would be very difficult to measure the difference in the skin condition without examining it beforehand. You would have no base to compare it with. Also, I think it would do well for you to work on the idea that nobody can change the past. The past is over and done with. And nobody can predict the future until it happens. That leaves us with the present, which is really all we have. And we do have the capacity to choose our present. We can either accept it for what it is or resolve to do something different in the future. When you say you 'can't let it go', would it be more truthful to say you' won't let it go'? These are very different reactions to a problem.  'I won't' is very limiting whereas 'I could' gives you a lot of room for improvement. And I am quite sure you 'could' let it go if you make up your mind.

I hope this has made some sense to you.
I want to let it go.  There were so many things  I could have done differently that would have prevented this. It just makes me so sad to know if I just would have thought about it logically. I could have seen it was just an infection.  I knew the Dr was wrong. I have cried every day since October 29. I'm sick to death of crying,  and not really being present for my life. It has taken on a life of it's own. I find myself worrying about the future.  If it's going to heal, or hurt. If I can swim in a pool or the ocean. So many thoughts all the time. I've gone from the past to the future now.

I really think you would do well to get some therapy to help you get past this problem. It seems to have become an obsession now, and that can be helped by talking to someone who can help you get on with your life. Good luck
Just to second the above post, I think it's time to move on from this experience and face what is your true long-term problem, which is your anxiety problem.  I'm not personally sure you have OCD based on what you describe, but you certainly are getting obsessed by the bad things that happen to everyone in life.  Those of us who suffer from depression and anxiety do this.  I do this, and it drives me nuts, though I never did it until a medication reaction.  But now that I do it, yeah, it makes life just too hard.  Nobody is going to get through life without both health problems and bad doctors.  Life is what it is.  Medicine is what it is.  We only know what we know, and humans in general aren't that great at much.  We goof.  Doctors goof too.  But most people move on.  That's what you really need to focus on.  It's the more important problem.
I agree with you and the other poster. I go over it in my head about 1,000 times from the time I wake, the hours of the day, shopping, time with my kids, while I'm in the shower, if I wake in the middle of the night.  I just replay it and it us so clear. It should have been clear to me at the time that it was just an infection and not dermatitis.  And I feel guilty because I forgot not to put it on thin skin. The guilt and the anger is still with me daily. I'm so sick if this. The anxiety is paralyzing.  I cant get my carefree self back. I'm trying to put it behind me. My kids want their mom back. They are not used to me being this way. I go to therapy once a week. My therapist wants me to move on and forget about it. I haven't been taking care of myself either, so I need to just accept it and move forward, or I'm really going to go down hill. My husband is in Korea for a year, so I'm on my own. Thank you guys for the good advice.  
My last comment - whenever I get on this merry-go-round, which I do quite often, my therapist says I could just put my finger on the delete button and stop the movie.
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