Topical steroids are used in addition to moisturisers (emollients) for dealing with eczema. Topical steroids lower skin inflammation. A short course will normally clear a flare-up of eczema. Side-effects are not likely to occur with brief courses.
What is eczema/dermatitis?
The terms eczema and dermatitis mean much the same. That is, an inflammation of the skin. It causes red, itchy skin which may likewise blister. There are two main types of dermatitis/eczema:
Atopic eczema. This is triggered by a problem from within the body. If you have atopic eczema you are born with a propensity for your skin to become irritated. Various parts of the skin tend to flare with inflammation from time to time.
Contact dermatitis. This is caused by a substance from outside the body. This typically causes patches of swelling on areas of skin which have entered contact with the compound. If you avoid the offending drug, the skin inflammation must disappear.
What is topical steroid cream and how do it work?
Topical steroids are creams, lotions and creams which consist of steroid medications. Topical steroids work by minimizing inflammation in the skin. They are used for different skin problem consisting of eczema. (Steroid medications that minimize swelling are in some cases called corticosteroids. They are really different to the anabolic steroids which are used by some bodybuilders and athletes.)
What types of topical steroids are there?
There are many types and brands of topical steroid. However, they are normally organized into 4 classifications depending on their stamina – mild, moderately potent, powerful and extremely potent. There are different brands and key ins each category. For example, hydrocortisone cream 1% is a typically used steroid cream and is classified as a moderate topical steroid. The greater the stamina (strength), the more result it has on decreasing inflammation however the higher the risk of side-effects with continued use.
Creams are typically best to treat wet or weeping areas of skin. Ointments are generally best to treat areas of skin which are dry or thickened. Creams might be useful to alleviate hairy areas such as the scalp.
Steroid cream usage
As a rule, a course of topical steroid is used when one or more spots of eczema flare. The aim of treatment is to clear the flare-up then to stop the steroid treatment.
It is common practice to use the lowest-strength topical steroid which clears the flare-up. So, for example, hydrocortisone 1% is typically used, particularly when dealing with children. This often works well. If there is no improvement after 3-7 days, a more powerful topical steroid is typically then prescribed. For severe flare-ups a more powerful topical steroid might be prescribed from the start.
In some cases two or more preparations of different staminas are used at the same time. For example, a moderate steroid for the face and a reasonably strong steroid for patches of eczema on the thicker skin of the arms or legs. A very strong topical steroid is frequently needed for eczema on the palms and soles of the feet of grownups because these areas have thick skin.
You should use topical steroid cream till the flare-up has totally gone and then stop it. In a lot of cases, a course of treatment for 7-14 days suffices to clear a flare-up of eczema. In many cases, a longer course is required.
Many people with eczema on face require a course of topical steroids every now and then to clear a flare-up. The frequency of flare-ups and the number of times a course of topical steroid cream is required vary considerably from individual to individual.
After you complete a course of topical steroid, remain to use moisturisers (emollients) every day to assist prevent a further flare-up. See separate brochure called Moisturisers (Emollients) for Eczema for more details.
Steroid cream for eczema and for face: side effects
Brief courses of topical steroids (fewer than four weeks) are usually safe and typically cause no problems. Issues may establish if topical steroids are used for extended periods, or if short courses of more powerful steroids are repeated frequently. The main concern is if strong steroids are used on a long-lasting basis. Side-effects from mild topical steroids are uncommon.
Side-effects from topical steroids can either be regional or systemic. Regional means simply impacting that bit of skin and systemic ways influencing the whole individual.
Local side effects of steroid cream
These consist of:
- A stinging or burning sensation when you first apply the treatment. This is quite typical however improves as your skin gets used to the treatment.
- Thinning of the skin has actually always been considered a typical issue. However, recent research recommends that this mainly occurs when high-strength steroids are used under airtight dressings. In normal routine use skin thinning is unlikely and, if it does take place, it typically reverses when the topical steroid is stopped.
- With long-lasting use of topical steroid the skin may develop permanent stretch marks (striae), bruising, discolouration, or thin spidery blood vessels (telangiectasias).
- Topical steroid cream might activate or intensify other skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and perioral dermatitis on your face and whole body.
- Skin colour might change. This is more noticeable if you have dark skin.
- Hair might grow more on the area of skin being dealt with.
- Some people may establish an allergy to the contents of the treatment, such as any preservative used. This might irritate the skin being treated and make the swelling worse.
Systemic effects of steroid cream
These consist of:
- Some topical steroid makes it through the skin and into the bloodstream. The quantity is normally small and normally causes no problems unless strong topical steroids are used frequently on huge areas of the skin. The primary issue is with children who need regular courses of strong topical steroids. The steroid can have an effect on growth. Therefore, children who need repeated courses of strong topical steroids should have their development kept track of.
- Fluid collection in the legs.
- High blood pressure.
- Bone damage (thinning).
- Cushing’s syndrome – this is a rare problem brought on by high levels of a hormone (chemical messenger) in your blood. Symptoms consist of quick weight gain, skin thinning and modifications to your mood.
A brochure has each topical steroid cream and provides a full list of possible side-effects.