The effects of prolonged use of topical corticosteroids
MEDICINES & TREATMENTSSKIN DISORDERS
Steroid topical applications are commonly prescribed on patients diagnosed with inflammatory skin conditions: such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis etc. Some patients tend to have frequent flare ups of these inflammations symptoms which then leads to overuse of topical corticosteroids. There are many negative side effects caused by this prolonged use.
While the topical corticosteroids can be very effective at reducing inflammation and itching, prolonged use of these medications can have some negative effects on the skin.
One of the most common side effects of prolonged use of topical corticosteroids is thinning of the skin. This occurs because the medication decreases the production of collagen and elastin, which are proteins that give the skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile, making it more prone to tears and injuries.
In addition to thinning of the skin, prolonged use of topical corticosteroids can also cause stretch marks, especially in areas where the skin is thin, such as the underarms, groin, and breasts. These marks occur when the skin is stretched too quickly and the collagen fibres break down, leaving behind visible lines on the skin.
Another potential side effect of prolonged use of topical corticosteroids is skin discoloration. This can occur when the medication is used on the face or other sensitive areas of the body, and can result in a patchy, uneven appearance of the skin. In some cases, the discoloration may be permanent, and can be difficult to treat.
Finally, prolonged use of topical corticosteroids can also lead to a condition known as steroid-induced rosacea. This is a type of facial redness and flushing that can occur when the medication is used on the face for an extended period of time. While the redness and flushing may improve once the medication is discontinued, it can take several months for the skin to fully recover.
If you are using topical corticosteroids to treat a skin condition, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and to use the medication only as directed. Prolonged use of these medications should be avoided, as it can lead to a number of negative side effects. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you have any concerns about the use of topical corticosteroids, be sure to talk to your doctor right away. They can help you determine the best course of treatment for your skin condition while minimising the risk of side effects.