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What Conditions are Treated with Corticosteroid Cream?

By T. M. Robertson
Updated May 17, 2024
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The primary purpose of corticosteroid cream is to treat skin conditions such as eczema. Corticosteroid cream is classified as a steroid and is regularly prescribed by physicians in different strengths as an anti-inflammatory drug. After the topical cream is applied to the skin, inflammation should go down and itching should be greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated. A side effect of regular and prolonged use of corticosteroid cream is a lightening of the skin. For this reason, the creams have become popular with people with darker skin tones who wish to lighten their complexions.

Physicians will typically prescribe a corticosteroid cream to patients with severe skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. When applied directly to the skin, the creams suppress the immune system and slow down the cellular turnover of the skin. By slowing down the turnover of cells in the skin, the redness, irritation, and inflammation affecting the patient are greatly reduced. Patients will also experience reduced itching and dryness, which will make them feel more comfortable and relieved. The creams often provide excellent results to patients in the beginning, but the skin can become resistant to the treatment over time.

Corticosteroid creams are made in different strengths. A physician may need to prescribe several different corticosteroid creams prescriptions for an individual patient, depending on the patient's overall condition. For example, a cream with a stronger potency may be necessary for rough areas, such as the knees and elbows, while a cream with a weaker potency may be necessary for more sensitive areas, such as the face. When using a corticosteroid cream, it's important to follow the physician's prescription and instructions carefully to avoid any adverse side effects.

Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams can lead to thinning of the skin, cause discolorations, make the skin more susceptible to bruising, and have a negative effect on blood vessels by causing them to dilate. Skin lightening is another common side effect of using corticosteroid creams for extended periods. Some people with darker or uneven skin tones use corticosteroid creams without a prescription, at a great risk to their health. While the creams are effective in lightening skin, there can be serious side effects, and physicians never advocate using these creams without a prescription or without medical supervision. The skin lightening isn't permanent, and after the creams are no longer used, the skin will slowly go back to its original pigmentation.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Aug 23, 2011

@burcinc-- If you are benefiting from it, I think it's okay to apply a little bit of coticosteroid on the irritated areas on your face because of acne. But it's not meant to be used for a long time.

I have severe seborrheic dermatitis and even I don't use it all the time, maybe once or twice a week, on specific areas on my face. I think that corticosteroid cream is meant for severe skin irritations and conditions like what I have or for things like eczema. It's not for everyone to use.

It's absolutely not meant to be used as a hand cream. Your friend should go to the doctor about her flaky skin and should only use corticosteroid cream if the doctor prescribes and in the doses and frequency he or she recommends.

Of course, it would be good if you talked to your doctor about using it for acne. I have heard of it being used for that but with a prescription and definitely not haphazardly!

By burcinc — On Aug 23, 2011

A friend of mine recommended this cream for my acne. She said that it helps relieve the redness, and also helps with infections and scars.

I purchased some and have started applying it on my face, but only on places where I have scarring and infected zits.

It has been just two days so I don't know if it's working or not. But I never got it with a prescription. I'm using it over the counter and I don't know if it's bad to use it for a long time.

I've also heard that corticosteroid cream is great for itchy flaky skin and can be applied on dry hands but I haven't tried it for that.

By burcidi — On Aug 22, 2011

I used coricosteroid creams after my car accident. I had a lot of bruising and swelling and these creams worked so well.

I had horrible bruises on my arms and face and swelling on my face. After an initial treatment, I came home with so many medications- creams, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs.

I'm sure that they all helped to reduce swelling, but I did see the greatest benefit from corticosteroid creams for the bruising. I think the bruises would have stayed for much longer if I hadn't used them.

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