Eczema Treatment: The Side Effects of Corticosteroids

There is no cure for eczema and the specific cause is not agreed upon by the medical community, thus eczema treatment can be somewhat tricky to determine. Fortunately, many dermatologists agree on some standard protocols for the treatment of eczema. Corticosteroids are just one form of treatment to supress the signs and symptoms of eczema. Although topical steroids are a rather effective treatment for eczema, the use of them does not come without risk.

Why Dermatologists Prescribe Corticosteroids for Eczema Treatment

The use of corticosteroids have been proven to be a rather effective treatment for the signs and symptoms of various types of eczema. The dermatologist will decide what type of corticosteroid to prescribe based upon the type and severity of the skin condition. As a rule of thumb, most dermatologists will begin with the lowest potency of topical steroids for eczema treatment due to the numerous risk factors associated with using steroids.

Medium potency to higher potency topical corticosteroids for the treatment of eczema should only be used for a short to medium length of time. Once the steroids have treated the eczema to an appropriate level, the dermatologist will then begin teaching you the importance of using emollients for your skin to provide long lasting treatment.

Side Effects of Using Corticosteroids

There are several risk factors associated with the topical eczema treatment, corticosteroids. One risk of using this type of topical treatment is thinning of the skin where the steroid cream is applied. This generally occurs if the potency is too high or when the treatment is used for a prolonged period of time. Thinning of the skin is a bad side effect of topical steroid eczema treatment because it causes the skin to be more fragile and much more likely to break and cause an entry for bacteria to get into the body (and thus leading to infection and exacerbation of the eczema).

HPA Axis Suppression

High potency eczema treatments could lead to HPA Axis Suppression; the suppression of your body’s stress response system. This has been seen in patients who have large areas of eczema and thus the body absorbs more of the topical steroid into the body. Standard protocol is to start with the lowest steroid potency.

Using Caution

It is very important that the steroids do not get into the eyes. Corticosteroids, when exposed to the eye, could cause glaucoma or lead to cataracts. Practice caution when using these potent topical agents to suppress the signs and symptoms of eczema. Unless yours hands have eczema that needs to be treated with the topical steriods, it would be in your best interest to wear examining gloves to apply the topical steroids to the areas of eczema on your body. This will decrease the amount of the steroids absorbed into your body.

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