Topical steroids are probably the most important medicine in today’s therapeutic armamentarium. However, we dermatologists are facing instances of their misuse, and prolonged misuse, at that, with an alarming increased frequency over the last few years.
Topical steroids have become a quick-fix for all kinds of rashes and even more dangerously, for instant fairness. They are also wrongly used on the groin area in various dangerous and irrational combinations.
This misuse, exacerbated by unregulated availability and sale across chemist counters, is singularly the most common cause of a nation-wide epidemic of resistant fungal infections over the last couple of years. Long-term, unsupervised misuse of topical steroids leads to some long-lasting serious side-effects and dependence
Here are five reasons why this issue must be addressed, and why we must curb the use and sale of OTC steroid ointments.
1.It’s Not What You Think
They don’t work to treat the original itch or skin problem that they are often recommended for, by chemists and loved ones.
2. Epidemic of Infections
This has led to an epidemic of chronic fungal infections, which are resistant to anti-fungal treatment. This is something dermatologists all over the country have been witnessing over the last few years.
3. Acne-Break Out
Long term use of the so-called brightening creams on the face can lead to severe acne and redness, and even cause overgrowth of hair.
4. Thin Skin
Long-term use of steroid creams leads to the thinning of the skin and stretch marks, which may never go away completely
5. Immunity Gone For A Toss
Long term use of potent steroids may lead to its absorption, which causes system side-effects like decreased immunity.
With so many potential side-effects of combination steroid-containing creams, it is warranted to be careful and not to use such creams without the supervision of doctors.
Some dermatologists do not recommend treatment with topical lotions and creams especially if the concerned patient is pregnant or is trying to become pregnant.
Steroid creams are useful for controlling many acute and chronic skin ailments. However, these must be used only for the specific problem, and time period, as advised by a qualified dermatologist.
*6th of April is World Skin Health Day. IADVL, a pan-India organisation of over 10,000 qualified dermatologists under the leadership of its president, Dr. P. Narsimha Rao, is celebrating the day with the theme, ‘Fight Topical Steroid Misuse To Maintain Good Skin Health.’
Written by: Dr. O.P. Gangwani, President, IADVL,
Delhi State Branch