HOW DO TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS WORK?

Reviewed on 5/11/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Topical corticosteroids are synthetic (man-made) steroid medications used to treat skin conditions and reduce inflammation and irritation. Topical corticosteroids are grouped according to their potency: Topical corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory actions and suppress the immune response. They are used based on their potency, the area of the body to which they will be applied, and the type of skin condition being treated.

Topical corticosteroids work through different mechanisms:

Steroids (naturally occurring hormones produced by the body) are released whenever the body experiences stress, disease, or trauma. They interact with the DNA in the cell to produce proteins called "lipocortin," and these proteins, in turn, block the chemical necessary for inflammatory response "arachidonic acid," leading to less inflammation.

Immune cells fight infections with the help of defensive cells (meant to neutralize invading viruses and bacteria). They also release toxins in the body, causing more inflammation. Corticosteroids hinder this action and prevent tissue damage that can be caused by excessive inflammation.

Inflammation leads to dilatation of blood vessels around the infected site; topical corticosteroids constrict the capillaries (smallest blood vessels) and reduce swelling and pain.

Topical corticosteroids are usually used once or twice a day (as prescribed by the physician). Gently rub the cream or ointment on the affected site and then wash your hands properly.

  • Anti-inflammatory (blocking of chemical reactions that cause inflammation)
  • Immunosuppressive
  • Vasoconstrictive (they constrict the blood vessels)

HOW ARE TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS USED?

These are used in various dermatological conditions, such as:

SLIDESHOW

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WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS?

The risk of side effects depends on the potency of the steroid, location, and duration of use. Many of the side effects resolve on their own after stopping the medication.

Common side effects include:

Other rare side effects include:

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF TOPICAL CORTICOSTEROIDS?

Drug names include:

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/corticosteroids-topical

https://www.medicinenet.com/corticosteroids-topical/article.htm

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/topical-steroid/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532940/

https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/topicals/

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