Are Topical Steroids Really Helpful For Eczema?

For some people suffering from eczema, the use of emollients is all that the body requires to keep the condition under control. However, for most people, there will come a time when they will need a steroid preparation as part of their treatment to keep eczema at bay. Topical steroids are one of the most used remedies for eczema. Although the use of topical steroids should be short, they function in conjunction with emollients. Emollients help to cleanse and moisturize the skin as well as a treat and prevent dry and itchy skin

What Are Topical Steroids?

The term “topical” refers to something applied to the skin. Steroids are natural hormones produced in the body by various glands. Topical steroids used to treat eczema are different from those used for bodybuilding and contraceptive pills. They are beneficial in the management of eczema because they reduce soreness and redness and make the skin less sore and itchy. There are various types of topical steroids found in sprays, lotions, creams, and ointments. Brands classify topical steroids by strength that ranges from super potent (class 1) to least potent (class 7). Examples of class 1 steroids are shampoo, spray, and lotion. Most of these brands have generic versions.

How Topical Steroids Can Help Relieve Eczema

Eczema is a term referring to a group of inflammatory skin conditions that produce scaly patches, lesions, rash-like symptoms, soreness, dryness, and itchiness on various parts of the body. Although science has not identified any specific cause of the condition, the National Eczema Foundation reports that people with eczema tend to present an overactive immune system that produces inflammation as a result of a trigger or irritant. Examples of common triggers include metals, fragrances, household products, and fabrics (polyester, wool). Poorly managing stress or letting your skin get too dry also increases the risk of eczema. Topical steroids work by reducing the inflammation that triggers eczema symptoms. For example, patients can use hydrocortisone cream, which belongs to class 7 to treat eczema. The doctor can prescribe a high potency topical steroid if the low-potency version does not work. It is imperative to note that eczema symptoms get worse at night and can interrupt sleep. Patients can take zopiclone to help them get better sleep.

As per the findings of the study by Sarah and Patrick, topical steroids play a crucial role in the treatment of most dermatologic conditions. The authors of this study contend that steroids are vital and approved by the FDA for conditions involving inflammatory, immunological, and hyper-proliferation properties. The various options include ointments for thick hyperkeratotic lesions, lotions for hair-bearing regions, creams for inflammation, and foams for the scalp. With such statistics from research, you no longer need to worry about eczema if you have topical steroids.

What You Need To Know When Using A Topical Steroid

  • Ensure that you apply the steroid to only areas that have eczema on the skin as the doctor advises you. Also, ensure the brand you use is the one the doctor prescribed to avoid the risk of side effects. Mostly, applying once per day is enough.
  • Never use topical steroids as a moisturizer.
  • Topical steroids are most effective when you apply three minutes after bathing before the skin becomes dry.
  • Once the inflammation is under control, you can reduce the amount you apply or stop applying the topical steroid.
  • Do not use large amounts of topical steroids for long periods. For example, some types of skins or areas such as genitals and the face absorb more medication, and as such, take care when applying topical steroids in these areas.
  • Once done applying the steroid, apply a moisturizer on top

Side Effects And Complications Of Topical Steroid Use

Various complications can arise from using or overusing topical steroids. The skin can become thinner, thicker, or darkened in the areas that the patient applies the medication. Besides, one can develop small broken blood vessels and stretch marks. Breastfeeding moms whose skin is rapidly expanding or teenagers who are quickly growing hair on arms and legs have a high risk of developing striae. For long-term users, side effects include diabetes, muscle weakness, neuropsychiatric weakness, osteoporosis, glaucoma, and cataracts.


Eczema is a condition that affects the skin and leads to itching. Topical steroids can help people with this condition to manage the symptoms and heal from eczema. However, it is imperative to consult a doctor who will examine your situation and determine the right medicine. There are seven classes of topical steroids grouped according to potency, and only a doctor can help determine the best type for you. You do not have to worry about the side effects of topical steroids as long as you follow the directions given to you by the doctor. For example, applying large amounts of topical steroids can increase the risk of side effects.

Author Bio:

Jessica Smith is an avid reader who enjoys getting lost in the world of books. Holding on to her passion for fitness, she believes that a healthy diet is a key to healthy living.

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