"Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as the sensation of itch.
Systemic absorption of topical corticosteroids can produce reversible hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression with the potential for glucocorticosteroid insufficiency after withdrawal of treatment. Manifestations of Cushing syndrome, hyperglycemia, and glucosuria can also be produced in some patients by systemic absorption of topical corticosteroids while on treatment. Patients applying a topical steroid to a large surface area or to areas under occlusion should be evaluated periodically for evidence of HPA axis suppression. This may be done by using the ACTH stimulation, A.M. plasma cortisol, and urinary free cortisol tests.
The effects of ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment on the HPA axis have been evaluated. In one study, ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment were applied to 30% of the body twice daily for 7 days, and occlusive dressings were used in selected patients either 12 hours or 24 hours daily. In another study, ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream was applied to 80% of the body surface of normal subjects twice daily for 21 days with daily 12-hour periods of whole body occlusion. Average plasma and urinary free cortisol levels and urinary levels of 17-hydroxysteroids were decreased (about 10%), suggesting suppression of the HPA axis under these conditions. Plasma cortisol levels have also been demonstrated to decrease in pediatric patients treated twice daily for 3 weeks without occlusion.
If HPA axis suppression is noted, an attempt should be made to withdraw the drug, to reduce the frequency of application, or to substitute a less potent corticosteroid. Recovery of HPA axis function is generally prompt upon discontinuation of topical corticosteroids. Infrequently, signs and symptoms of glucocorticosteroid insufficiency may occur, requiring supplemental systemic corticosteroids. For information on systemic supplementation, see prescribing information for those products.
Pediatric patients may be more susceptible to systemic toxicity from equivalent doses due to their larger skin surface area to body mass ratios (see PRECAUTIONS: Pediatric Use).
If irritation develops, ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment should be discontinued and appropriate therapy instituted. Allergic contact dermatitis with corticosteroids is usually diagnosed by observing a failure to heal rather than noting a clinical exacerbation, as with most topical products not containing corticosteroids. Such an observation should be corroborated with appropriate diagnostic patch testing. If concomitant skin infections are present or develop, an appropriate antifungal or antibacterial agent should be used. If a favorable response does not occur promptly, use of ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment should be discontinued until the infection has been adequately controlled.
In a transgenic mouse study, chronic use of Aclovate (alclometasone dipropionate) cream led to an increased number of animals with benign neoplasms of the skin at the treatment site (see PRECAUTIONS: Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Impairment of Fertility). The clinical relevance of the findings in animal studies to humans is not clear.
The following tests may be helpful in evaluating patients for HPA axis suppression:
ACTH stimulation test
A.M. plasma cortisol test
Urinary free cortisol test
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Systemic long-term animal studies have not been performed to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of alclometasone dipropionate. The effects of alclometasone dipropionate on mutagenesis or fertility have not been evaluated.
In a 26-week dermal carcinogenicity study conducted in transgenic (Tg.AC) mice, topical application once daily of both the vehicle cream and the 0.05% alclometasone dipropionate cream significantly increased the incidence of benign neoplasms of the skin in both sexes at the treatment site when compared to untreated controls. This suggests that the positive effect may be associated with the vehicle application. The clinical relevance of the findings in animals to humans is not clear.
Pregnancy Category C. Corticosteroids have been shown to be teratogenic in laboratory animals when administered systemically at relatively low dosage levels. Some corticosteroids have been shown to be teratogenic after dermal application in laboratory animals. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Systemically administered corticosteroids appear in human milk and could suppress growth, interfere with endogenous corticosteroid production, or cause other untoward effects. It is not known whether topical administration of topical corticosteroids could result in sufficient systemic absorption to produce detectable quantities in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment is administered to a nursing woman.
ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment may be used with caution in pediatric patients 1 year of age or older, although the safety and efficacy of drug use for longer than 3 weeks have not been established. Use of ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment is supported by results from adequate and well-controlled studies in pediatric patients with corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses. Since the safety and efficacy of ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment have not been established in pediatric patients below 1 year of age, its use in this age-group is not recommended. Because of a higher ratio of skin surface area to body mass, pediatric patients are at a greater risk than adults of HPA axis suppression and Cushing syndrome when they are treated with topical corticosteroids. They are therefore also at greater risk of adrenal insufficiency during and/or after withdrawal of treatment. Adverse effects, including striae, have been reported with inappropriate use of topical corticosteroids in infants and children. Pediatric patients applying ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment to > 20% of the body surface area are at higher risk for HPA axis suppression.
HPA axis suppression, Cushing syndrome, linear growth retardation, delayed weight gain, and intracranial hypertension have been reported in pediatric patients receiving topical corticosteroids. Manifestations of adrenal suppression in pediatric patients include low plasma cortisol levels and absence of response to ACTH stimulation. Manifestations of intracranial hypertension include bulging fontanelles, headaches, and bilateral papilledema.
ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream or Ointment should not be used in the treatment of diaper dermatitis.
A limited number of patients at or above 65 years of age have been treated with ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment in US clinical trials. The number of patients is too small to permit separate analysis of efficacy and safety. No adverse events were reported with ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Ointment in geriatric patients, and the single adverse reaction reported with ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream in this population was similar to those reactions reported by younger patients. Based on available data, no adjustment of dosage of ACLOVATE® (alclometasone dipropionate) Cream and Ointment in geriatric patients is warranted.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/23/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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