Steroids for Your Skin

These creams and ointments have been in use since the 1950s and have a powerful effect on the skin. Also known as topical steroids they are believed to work in three different ways:

1 They make surface blood vessels close up tightly, thereby reducing the amount of redness visible in the skin.

2 They slow down the production of new cells.

3 They reduce skin inflammation (thereby having an important effect on conditions such as eczema).

Although they are particularly effective in the treatment of most types of dermatitis and eczema, some cases of intertrigo, occasionally psoriasis and a variety of other disorders, topical steroids can make some other conditions worse and are particularly likely to produce problems if used on the face, under the arms or around the genital area. The side-effects produced by steroids vary but skin atrophy, acne and some types of dermatitis can all be caused by creams and ointments of this type. Children and babies are particularly susceptible.

Treatment with steroids

When prescribed for skin conditions, steroids should be applied fairly sparingly (the majority of patients use more steroid cream than is necessary). They should be rubbed in very gently but thoroughly and should be kept off areas of healthy skin if possible. These creams should not be obtained on repeat prescription.

There are many different types of steroid cream available, some much more powerful than others. Obviously, the least powerful preparation that will do the job is the most suitable one.

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