Topical Corticosteroids for Atopic Dermatitis
Several corticosteroid creams and ointments are available for controlling atopic dermatitis symptoms. These products are classified according to potency, ranging from group I (the most potent) through group VIII (the least potent).
Prescription, low strength
Prescription, medium strength
Prescription, high strength
Prescription, very high strength
Corticosteroid preparations are applied to the skin 1 to 4 times a day, depending on the strength of the preparation and your age. These medicines may be available as creams, lotions, or ointments.
How It Works
Why It Is Used
Topical corticosteroids are prescribed for atopic dermatitis rashes. High-strength preparations can be used on thickened skin. Avoid using high-strength topical corticosteroids on the face.
How Well It Works
Topical corticosteroids, in combination with aggressive moisturizing, are the most commonly used and effective treatment for atopic dermatitis. For most people, using a topical corticosteroid for 2 to 3 days significantly clears the rash. Thickened skin requires longer treatment.
To gain the best results from topical corticosteroid treatment, apply moisturizer after each corticosteroid treatment and at least one other time during the day.
In some cases, wrapping the area with a bandage, called an occlusive dressing, may improve atopic dermatitis. But high-strength corticosteroids combined with an occlusive dressing can increase the risk of skin thinning and other side effects.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
With long-term use, high-strength topical corticosteroids cause temporary thinning of the skin, making it more easily irritated. But when used carefully and mostly in low-strength doses, topical corticosteroids can be used for many years without severe side effects.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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