Why steroid creams are dangerous
From school to college and even today I have seen many girls commit one cardinal skin sin – to cure all skin issues they start using steroidal creams as moisturizers.
Team AAW asked Dr Krupa Shankar from Manipal Hospitals to highlight the side effects of steroid creams:
The Dermatologists of India are distressed by the reckless and unregulated use of steroid creams and have to deal with the side effects of these creams used over long periods of time on the basis of advice and steroid cream tubes received from friends, relatives and even beauty parlors by unwitting patients.
This has been brought to the attention of Dermatologists at large through our National conferences from 2009 onwards and articles have been published in our National journal which is indexed and read all over the world. You can enter the search word “topical steroid damaged face” in Google and see what unregulated and self medicated use of steroid creams can do.
When a Dermatologist prescribes a steroid cream, the severity, extent, site of the disease, patient’s age and physiological status are taken into account, a date for follow up visit is fixed and at each visit the endeavour is to get the patient off it at the earliest, while being monitored for signs of side effects.
Steroid in the creams maybe absorbed into the body in small amounts. Steroid creams when used for very long periods may have undesirable effects on the general health as well as on the health of the skin; hence steroid creams are given only after a disease is firmly and correctly diagnosed.
This means steroid creams must be used only on prescription from a doctor qualified to prescribe it. It should be applied only to the area affected and for the duration recommended. Steroid creams must not be given away to others with undiagnosed skin problems. Steroid creams are scheduled drugs meant to be prescribed only by a Doctor. If it is used in the absence of such a prescription, it is against the law. You must consult your doctor after the steroid cream prescribed, is over. It must not be repurchased or used for indefinite periods of time.
Steroid creams are safe when used under medical supervision. These are also prescribed for children and pregnant women when needed, by the Dermatologists. The Dermatologists will know which creams are safe for use in these age groups. If you have a lot of fear about steroid creams, please discuss it with your doctor before you accept your prescription. There are certain other medicines which work in some diseases in which steroids work and are safe for longer periods of time and do not have the side effects of steroid creams. These may not be as dramatically effective as steroid creams in the short duration but are effective over weeks of use.
Once steroid creams are used for prolonged periods of time without supervision, it is difficult to discontinue them. The local side effects of steroid creams are thinning of the skin, hair growth, oiliness of skin or excessive dryness of skin and pimples. As a consequence of thinning of the skin, the arteries and veins may become visible and the skin bleeds and tears easily. It is also prone to poor wound healing and infections.
The major risk of unsupervised use of steroid creams is the masking of the characteristic signs and symptoms of a disease, without curing it, when used by the untutored, as also the risk of a disease worsening when it is used where it must not be used , for example, infectious diseases , which are so common in this country .
It is best that these highly effective compounds be used to optimal benefit under the care of doctors trained in their judicious use.