How Topical Steroid Creams and Ointments Work

Topical Steroid Creams
How Topical Steroid Creams and Ointments Work

Topical Steroid Creams And Ointments 

The use of topical steroid creams and ointments is the most common remedy for various dermatological conditions. The application of steroids are mainly preferred as compared to taking oral steroids due to two major reasons that include:
  • Ease of applying on the skin.
  • Fewer side effects.

On the other hand, while steroid creams can treat various skin problems, they may take more time to completely clear the condition. This is because steroid creams and ointments are generally medication for skin inflammation and may not treat the underlying cause of the ailment. Nonetheless, it is advisable that the patient applies their cream or ointments as directed by the physician for them to heal quickly.
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Some of the conditions that require the use of steroid creams as part of treatment are such as eczema and psoriasis. The medications have been in existence since the early 1950s and are still in use to date due to their effectiveness in relieving various symptoms such as;
  • Irritations
  • Itchiness
  • Infections are brought about by scratching or skin trauma.
  • The redness of the skin.

Besides, one of the most common drugs for the treatment of eczema is topical corticosteroids. The medication is usually applied as a prescription cream for all kinds of eczema skin conditions.

The Most Common Topical Steroids and their Side Effects

Some of the most common types of Topical steroids (Corticosteroids) that are mainly used include:

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With their main function being the prevention of skin inflammation, steroid creams work by prohibiting the cells from the chemicals that bring about swelling. It is again worth noting that topical steroids are of different types in regards to their strengths where they may be mild, moderate, or potent.

The hydrocortisone, for example, is one of the low-potent steroid creams that are sold over-the-counter. Its side-effects on the patients who use it for a prolonged period include thinning of the skin especially on the sensitive body parts.  

Such body parts may include where we have the folding of the skin, face, genital area, and eyelids. It is advisable to use steroid creams for a short period as per the directions, especially for the super potent ones.
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Classifications of Topical Steroids Creams and Ointments

There are seven types of topical steroids where they range from the most potent being Class I, to the least potent being Class VII.  
They are available over-the-counter in various forms that include
  • creams, 
  • ointments, 
  • powders, 
  • lotions, 
  • gels, 
  • and even sprays. 

 Again, with some being less powerful such as hydrocortisone, which is 1%, the Class I steroids can be up to 1000 times more effective compared to Class VII.

Among the topical steroid types mentioned above, the ointment form is the most powerful, although with the different skin ailments each has its purpose. 

An example is where steroids in the form of powders treat skin conditions such as diaper rash or foot fungus as they are good absorbers of moisture. 

Moreover, topical creams are the most popular among consumers as they are widely available and can treat various kinds of skin disorders.
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Notably, some forms of topical steroid creams and ointments exist in the form of generic versions, which may not be effective.  Depending on the skin condition that one has, dermatologists prescribe the medication according to the steroid formulation when they feel it can treat the ailment. 

The following is an elaborate description of the classes of topical steroids creams and ointments.

  • Class 1- Super potent
  • Class 2- Potent
  • Class 3- Upper mid-strength
  • Class 4- Mid-strength
  • Class 5- Lower mid-strength
  • Class 6- Mid
  • Class 7- Least potent

Three ways in which the Topical Steroid Creams and Ointments Function.

1- Prohibit inflammation by preventing the chemical reactions behind the skin disorder.

Steroids reduce inflammation in the body by releasing their hormones, which combine with the body’s DNA to produce the lipocortin proteins. With this process, the proteins block the chemical production of arachidonic acid that is responsible for inflammation.

2- Constriction of blood vessels

Inflammation of the skin is usually a result of the dilation of the blood vessels on the affected area of the skin. The topical steroids applied on the skin, therefore, work by helping in the constriction of capillaries, eventually helping in the reduction of pain and swelling.

3-Functions along with the immune cells to reduce inflammation.

The immune system is responsible for fighting diseases caused by bacteria or viruses where during the process, there is a release of toxins that causes inflammation. It is for this reason that steroids come in handy to help in the prevention of excessive tissue damage and inflammation.
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Things that one should know before using the Topical Steroid.

  • One should only apply as directed by your doctor.
  • While applying gently to the affected area, one should rub the steroid in the direction in which the hair grows.
  • It is advisable to apply the medication within three minutes after having a bath.
  • One should also read the leaflet on the package to get to know how much or how many times you should apply.
  • You should not use steroid creams or ointments as a moisturizer.
  • It is important to apply a moisturizer on top of the steroid to keep it moist.
  • One should take care of the quantity of steroid cream applied on the folds of the skin such as thighs or buttocks as some of these areas tend to absorb more as compared to the other body parts.
  •  Image result for steroids cream application on the folds of the body picture
    The topical steroid creams and ointment treatments success depends on how one can follow the directives of the doctor or directions written in the leaflet. It is important that users of steroid creams or ointments follow instructions, which includes the duration stipulated even if the skin heals to get the desired results. Failure to do so may lead to adverse effects such as stretch marks, darkening, and thinning of the skin. In addition, your physician might prescribe medicines such as Zopiclone to help you relax and sleep better.

    Author: Harold is a passionate writer. She enjoys writing about the latest trends all around the globe. Through her writing, she hopes to influence as many people as possible to help build a beautiful world. 

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