What Are Topical Steroid Creams For Eczema
Topical steroid creams, also known as topical corticosteroids, are medical treatments for eczema. They are used to control the symptoms of severe eczema, as well as other inflammatory skin conditions when they flare-up.
The term topical corticosteroid refers to steroid medicine that can be applied to affected areas to reduce inflamed skin. These medications are topical, which means they are applied to the skin on the affected area. Once applied, they can reduce inflammation, redness, irritation, and other symptoms associated with flare-ups of various skin conditions such as eczema. They can often be used to treat different conditions simultaneously, see our guide on treating eczema and psoriasis.
Topical corticosteroids can also refer to lotions, gels, and ointments that all work to treat dermatological issues rather than corticosteroids that are taken orally .
Here are the most common forms of topical corticosteroids:
There are varying types and strengths of topical steroid creams. The most suitable topical cream for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms, and where on the body you are affected. For example, when looking to treat eczema on your face, milder creams are recommended. Milder creams will also be recommended when treating more sensitive areas of the body, while stronger creams are suggested for thicker skin .
An Emerging International Problem
In the United States, over-the-counter steroid creams are not very powerful, which is why theyre called low potency. But in some other countries, people can buy creams containing strong steroids without a prescription. Many of these steroid creams also contain antifungal and antibacterial medicines, and the labels say that the cream can be used to treat fungal infections. However, healthcare providers in India report seeing more cases of severe ringworm in people who have used these combination medications.1-6 These infections have been reported to cover large parts of the body, last for months or longer, and spread to family members.4
If you travel internationally, develop a rash, and think it might be ringworm, be aware that strong over-the-counter steroid creams containing combinations of antifungal and antibacterial medicines can make ringworm worse and can cause other health problems. If a healthcare provider in another country recommends a cream for a rash that might be ringworm, ask what medications are in the cream and whether it contains strong steroids.1
Top Five Shampoos And Creams
Here is a list of the top five shampoos and creams for eczema cream.
If you have been faithfully using an over the counter cream and shampoo but you do not see improvement then it might be time to head to the local dermatological clinic for help. Some forms of eczema are so severe that they require pharmaceutical medications. In addition, other health conditions could appear similar so rule out all causes before choosing an over-the-counter salve or shampoo. Your physician might perform scrapings and other tests to determine the cause of your flaky, red, itchy, and painful scalp.
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The following conditions all bear similarities to eczema:
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Top 5 Most Common Otc Treatments For Eczema
Eczema treatment can go beyond prescribed medication. There are many OTC products which can provide hydration and itch relief, stop some skin types from becoming scaly and prevent skin dryness. Check out these four OTC products and see how they might work with your eczema therapy and treatment plan.
Check If You Can Take Topical Corticosteroids
Most adults and children aged 12 or older can use mild topical corticosteroids safely.
Do not use a topical corticosteroid if you have:
- widespread psoriasis and dermatitis around the mouth or nose
Children aged 12 or older can also use mild topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone.
Only use more potent or stronger topical corticosteroids in children if your GP advises it.
Continuous use of a topical corticosteroid in children may affect the child’s growth.
Always give your child the correct dose and only for the length of time recommended by the GP
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What Are The Most Commonly Used Steroid Creams For Eczema
There are many different types of steroid creams that can be used to treat your eczema. Before using any on your eczema even over-the-counter creams talk with your doctor about which ones might be best for your situation. Not everyone will respond or react to steroid creams in the same way.
Different steroid creams used to treat eczema may include:
What Do I Need To Know About Oral Or Injectable Steroids Used To Treat Eczema
Oral or injectable corticosteroids:
- Should be used short-term only follow recommended dosing schedule closely.
- Are approved for severe or difficult-to-treat eczema.
- Side effects may include bone loss, diabetes, weight gain and eye problems.
- Skin may flare when medication is stopped.
- To prevent health risks from overuse of corticosteroids, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all current or recent use of corticosteroids, including oral, inhaled, nasal, topical and eye drops.
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Are All Corticosteroid Creams The Same
Corticosteroid creams come in different strengths, ranging from very mild to very potent . The strongest topical steroid is 600 to 1,000 times stronger than an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. The strength that your doctor prescribes will depend on the type and severity of your condition.
Regardless of the strength, steroid creams start working within 1 day, says Corinna Bowser, MD. Shes an allergist and immunologist with Suburban Allergy Consultants in the Philadelphia area. We usually see a reduction of itchiness, redness and inflammation in 1 to 3 days.
If you dont see any improvement within the first week, thats usually a sign the cream wont work for you, adds Milne. Make sure you keep your doctor updated on your symptoms.
How To Use Them
It is important to follow a healthcare professionals instructions carefully. Usually, they recommend using a topical steroid to ease symptoms of an eczema flare-up and reducing or stopping the treatment once the symptoms are under control.
The right amount of medication depends on the affected area. The doctor might give instructions in FTUs. This refers to the amount of the medication that could fit on the tip of an adult index finger. The National Eczema Association provides guidance about FTUs and areas affected by eczema.
While there is currently no cure for eczema, a wide range of treatments can manage the symptoms. Beyond avoiding possible triggers and maintaining good skin health, a person might try:
- Bathing, moisturizing, and wet wraps: Very dry skin is a common symptom of eczema, and moisturizing may help heal any damage from dryness and prevent flare-ups. It can also improve how well the skin absorbs medications.
- Over-the-counter medicines: Some examples include lower-potency steroid creams, antihistamines, and pain relief medications.
- Prescription medicines: These include stronger topical steroids and calcineurin inhibitors, injectable drugs called biologics, and oral drugs, such as immunosuppressants and steroids.
- Alternative and complementary treatments: Relaxation techniques, mindfulness training, and acupressure may provide a whole-body approach to the treatment.
- This involves using different wavelengths of UV light to reduce inflammation and itchiness.
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How To Take It
The way to take this medicine is: Topical. This medicine is applied directly to the surface of the skin.
- Store below 25 degrees Celsius
- Shelf lifetime is 36 Months.
You should seek medical advice in relation to medicines and use only as directed by a healthcare professional.
Always read the label. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
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What Do I Need To Know About Topical Corticosteroids Used To Treat Eczema
Topical corticosteroids are steroids that are placed topically, on the skin. Important points about their use include:
- Corticosteroids are often the first line of treatment for eczema.
- Corticosteroids are available as creams, solutions, foams and ointments.
- Low potency doses available without a prescription.
- Corticosteroids cause thinning of skin.
- If recommended by a physician, corticosteroids may be used 1-2 times per week to prevent outbreaks in areas that commonly flare.
- They come in different strengths do not substitute one for another without consulting a doctor.
- Childrens skin absorbs medicine more quickly and thoroughly than adult skin, so recommended medications and dosages differ according to age.
- For best and long-lasting results, use the medication for the full amount of time recommended by your physician. Discuss any concerns about side effects before discontinuing use.
- Always tell your physician and pharmacist about current or recent use of all forms of corticosteroids, including oral, inhaled, nasal, topical and eye drops.
Use Caution Applying Topical Steroids To Sensitive Areas
Some areas of the body are particularly sensitive to the effects of topical steroids. For instance, parts of the body with thin skin, such as the face, eyelids, and genitals, are highly susceptible, and only the ltopical steroids should only be used on these areas as advised by a physician. Areas with skin folds, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts, absorb more topical steroid, so topical steroids should be used with caution on these areas as well.
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How Do You Treat Severe Eczema
If you are experiencing symptoms of severe eczema, you should seek out medical assistance. There are a variety of medications, such as topical steroids, that can be used to treat eczema flare-ups and many will help with severe cases. However, any level of eczema can be treated with many different options regardless of severity.
The Kinds Of Topical Steroids Available
There are a number of types of topical steroids available by prescription, as well as hydrocortisone acetate 1% cream, which is available over the counter without a prescription.
Topical steroids are available in a variety of medications, strengths, and vehicles. Some medications are more potent , in higher concentrations, or are placed in a different “vehicle” , which can affect how strong the topical steroid is.
Topical steroids are useful for treating many allergic skin diseases and pruritus, including atopic dermatitis .
Generally, a doctor will recommend a topical steroid for treating a child’s eczema that cannot be controlled with skin moisturizers alone.
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Illegal Topical Corticosteroid In Cosmetic Products
Topical corticosteroids are regulated. However, a potent steroid is illegally present in some cosmetic products purchased over the counter or via the Internet, according to reports from China and several developing countries. This has resulted in many reports of steroid-dependentperiorificial dermatitis, rosacea and other adverse effects.
Oral Antihistamines For Eczema
Antihistamines may help prevent nighttime scratching, which can further damage the skin and cause infections.
Various protectant repair creams may also help ease eczema symptoms by restoring essential skin components, like ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol.
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Fingertip Units And Children
An FTU of cream or ointment is measured on an adult index finger before being rubbed on to a child. Again, one FTU is used to treat an area of skin on a child equivalent to twice the size of the flat of an adults hand with the fingers together. You can gauge the amount of topical steroid to use by using your hand to measure the amount of skin affected on the child. From this you can work out the amount of topical steroid to use.
The following gives a rough guide:
For a child aged 3-6 months
- Entire face and neck 1 FTU.
- An entire arm and hand 1 FTU.
- An entire leg and foot 1.5 FTUs.
- The entire front of chest and tummy 1 FTU.
- The entire back including buttocks 1.5 FTUs.
For a child aged 1-2 years
- Entire face and neck 1.5 FTUs.
- An entire arm and hand 1.5 FTUs.
- An entire leg and foot 2 FTUs.
- The entire front of chest and abdomen 2 FTUs.
- The entire back including buttocks 3 FTUs.
For a child aged 3-5 years
- Entire face and neck 1.5 FTUs.
- An entire arm and hand 2 FTUs.
- An entire leg and foot 3 FTUs.
- The entire front of chest and abdomen 3 FTUs.
- The entire back including buttocks 3.5 FTUs.
For a child aged 6-10 years
- Entire face and neck 2 FTUs.
- An entire arm and hand 2.5 FTUs.
- An entire leg and foot 4.5 FTUs.
- The entire front of chest and abdomen 3.5 FTUs.
- The entire back including buttocks 5 FTUs.
Beware Of Using High Potency Topical Steroids On Your Face
The skin on the face is particularly susceptible to the side effects of topical steroids, and getting these medications in the eyes can result in glaucoma or cataract formation. Limit the use of topical corticosteroids on the face, with only the smallest amount of medication used for the shortest amount of time possible, under the guidance of a physician.
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How To Use Topical Corticosteroids
Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor, follow the directions on the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine. This will give details of how much to apply and how often.
Most people only need to use the medicine once or twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks. Occasionally a doctor may suggest using it less frequently over a longer period of time.
The medicine should only be applied to affected areas of skin. Gently smooth a thin layer onto your skin in the direction the hair grows.
If youre using both topical corticosteroids and emollients, you should apply the emollient first. Then wait about 30 minutes before applying the topical corticosteroid.
Getting The Dose Right
The amount of topical steroid that you should apply is commonly measured by fingertip units . One FTU is the amount of topical steroid that is squeezed out from a standard tube along an adult’s fingertip. A fingertip is from the very end of the finger to the first crease in the finger.
One FTU is enough to treat an area of skin twice the size of the flat of an adult’s hand with the fingers together.
Two FTUs are about the same as 1 g of topical steroid. For example, say you treat an area of skin the size of eight adult hands. You will need four FTUs for each dose.
The following are further examples:
|Area of skin to be treated||Size is roughly|
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Hydrocortisone Cream And Ointment
Creams are better for skin that is moist and weepy. Ointments are thicker and greasier, and are better for dry or flaky areas of skin.
Most people need to use hydrocortisone cream or ointment once or twice a day. If you use it twice a day, try to leave a gap of 8 to 12 hours before putting on any more.
Skin creams can dry onto your clothes and bedding. This makes them more likely to catch fire. Avoid naked flames.
The amount of cream or ointment you need to use is sometimes measured in fingertip units. This is the amount you can squeeze onto the end of your finger.
A fingertip unit is generally enough to treat both sides of your hand.
For babies and children, the right amount depends on their age. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you.
Are There Any Possible Side Effects
On the whole, lotions for eczema are considered to be quite safe and unlikely to place your health in any danger. However, there are certain side effects that might have to be faced.
While they are not dangerous, they can be alarming if the person does not know about them beforehand.
For one thing, you might feel a stinging or burning sensation when you apply it in the beginning. This effect will improve as the treatment is continued.
Another problem that people complain of is with regards to thinning of the skin. This is a reversible problem which resolves once the application of the lotion is abandoned.
Some lotions may change the color of the skin where they are being applied. Furthermore, increased incidence of acne might have to be faced.
Hair growth in the area where the lotion is applied may also be enhanced.
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