13 4 Topical corticosteroids

Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone. Topical corticosteroids can also refer to lotions, gels, and ointments that all work to treat dermatological issues — rather than corticosteroids that are taken orally (such as tablets, capsules, or inhalers). Do you have 3 minutes to complete a short, quick and simple 12 question user feedback form about our bumps information leaflets? To have your say on how we can improve our website and the information we provide please visit here. Topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) remains unrecognised as an official condition by the NHS, and sufferers feel they have been misdiagnosed as a result.

If used as recommended by the manufacturer they are usually absorbed into the bloodstream in only very small amounts. The risk of side effects runs parallel with the strength of the steroid and the duration of therapy. The face, genitals and skin fold areas will absorb more steroids than other areas. If you use a steroid under a bandage (making it occlusive) or via a plaster it will also have the same effect. If your usual ointment does not seem to be working this may be because there is an infection.

How long should I use topical corticosteroids?

Remember that the percentage concentration stated on the tube only applies to that particular corticosteroid. Different topical corticosteroids have different strengths, or potencies. A useful table of product potencies is available from the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS.

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking. It’s run by the medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). If you use them correctly, topical corticosteroids rarely have serious side effects.

Ointment or cream?

NHS England (NHSE) has published new prescribing guidance for various common conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care (quick reference guide). The preferred formulation for corticosteroids is usually ointment as they are more moisturising than cream, and contain less or no preservatives. Some mild steroids are available to buy without a prescription, however it is always a good idea to speak to a doctor or pharmacist before using them. Topical steroids are one of the first treatment options for most people with psoriasis. They are most appropriate for people whose psoriasis covers only a small amount of their body, and should not be used on more widespread psoriasis. TCS are used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory skin conditions and may also be used to treat excessive scar tissue.

Very potent topical corticosteroids are not usually prescribed for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or for very young children. Sometimes you may be prescribed them under the supervision of a skincare specialist (dermatologist). In the case of scalp psoriasis it is reasonable to use a more potent corticosteroid. Unfortunately there are only potent or very potent corticosteroid products, such as gels, foams, shampoos or lotions.


Steroids are natural chemicals produced by the body and also are manufactured to be used as medicines. The most common type used to treat skin problems are the corticosteroids. The active ingredient in Betnovate is betamethasone valerate, which is a potent corticosteroid. Because it’s a stronger steroid, Betnovate is usually used to control outbreaks rather than as a long-term preventative measure. If your skin condition is also showing signs of infection, you may want a stronger steroid cream that also contains an antibiotic, like Fucibet.

Women who are planning a pregnancy should speak to their specialist to ensure they are using the most suitable treatment. Corticosteroid nasal sprays can help a blocked and/or runny nose and therefore improve health and wellbeing. For more information https://www.groupelamarre.ca/blogue/uk-steroidssp-com-how-to-use-steroids-to-overcome/ on side effects, see the leaflet that comes with the medicine. Gently smooth a thin layer onto your skin in the direction the hair grows. Wash your hands before and after you’ve applied the medicine, unless you are treating an area on your hands.

If your skin condition gets worse or does not get better, it is important that you return to your doctor for advice. You might have developed a different condition, which may need a different treatment. Dan is an experienced pharmacist having spent time working in both primary and secondary care. He currently supports our clinical team by providing robust clinical governance review of our internal processes and information. Due to people having different needs and reactions, there’s no singular answer to this question.

Patients and visitors

Topical steroids may be used separately, or in combination with topical vitamin D treatments. The active ingredient in Eumovate is clobetasone, a moderately potent corticosteroid that reduces redness, itching and swelling. It may also be used as a preventative measure for flare-ups and has very few side effects for adults and children. The active ingredient that Hydrocortisone products contain is hydrocortisone acetate, a mild corticosteroid that helps to tackle skin flare-ups, itching and soreness. Because of this, Hydrocortisone 1% and Hc45 cream can be used to treat a variety of inflammatory skin reactions and allergies including insect bites and stings. Medical professionals often talk about the ‘potency’ of topical steroids — how strong they are.

These may come in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, mousses, shampoos, gels or tapes. Most topical corticosteroids are considered safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Your doctor will consider the area of skin where you need to use it, how often you’ll use it and the condition of your skin. You should wash off any steroid cream applied to your breasts before feeding your baby. Topical steroid withdrawal reactions have not been reported when topical steroids are used to treat suitable conditions for short periods of time or with short breaks in treatment over an extended period. You should also read the Patient Information Leaflet included with your medicine.