Topical Corticosteroids for Atopic Dermatitis
What To Think About
- Avoid stronger corticosteroids on the sensitive skin of the face, armpits, and genital area.
- When treatment with topical corticosteroids begins, your doctor may prescribe medicines in a "pulse" pattern. For example, you may use corticosteroids for 2 weeks. Then you stop using them for 2 weeks. Then, you apply corticosteroids for another 2 weeks. This pulse-pattern prescription may help keep the medicine from becoming less effective over time.
- An ointment form provides the best moisturizing effect for the skin. But ointments may be uncomfortable in warm and humid conditions because they don't allow the skin to breathe well. In these cases, creams may be a better choice.
- Topical corticosteroids may be alternated with Reference coal tar preparations if there is concern about corticosteroid exposure. But this medicine should not be used on skin that is very irritated, because it can make your skin problem worse. Examples of coal tar preparations include 5% coal tar in a hydro-alcoholic gel (such as Estar) or 5% liquor carbonis detergens in a cream base.
- When using a topical corticosteroid for longer periods of time, it is important to phase out its use gradually over 2 to 4 weeks, replacing it with a moisturizer, a topical calcineurin inhibitor, or a coal tar product.
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 Reference 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.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: April 17, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology