Topical steroids are creams, ointments and lotions which contain steroid medicines. Topical steroids work by reducing inflammation in the skin. They are used for various skin conditions, including eczema. A topical steroid is absorbed in different rates depending on skin thickness. The greatest absorption occurs through the thin skin of eyelids, genitals, and skin creases when a potent topical steroid is best avoided. The least absorption occurs through the thick skin of palms and soles, where a mild topical steroid is ineffective.
Formulations of Topical Steroid
Topical steroids can be found in several formulations, intended to suit the type of skin lesion and its location. Creams and lotions are the most popular formulations and can be used for general purposes.
Ointment. Ointment is the most suitable formulation for dry and non-hairy skin. Its not sensitive and can be stored anywhere as long as in room temperature and dry.
Gel or solution. Gel and solution suitable to be used on hair-bearing skin. However, it can make you skin dry and you will feel a little bit of tingling sensation.
What are Steroid Creams Used for?
Steroid medicines are used for many different medical conditions. Steroids can be given as creams/ointments, as a nasal spray, as inhalers, as tablets or as an injection. These are some of the commons used of steroid when it comes to skin.
Reduce inflammation. Steroids help to reduce swelling in the skin. Skin gets inflamed when an allergic reaction or irritation causes chemicals to be released in the skin. These make blood vessels widen and the irritated skin becomes red, swollen, itchy and painful. By applying steroid cream, it works on your skin’s cells to stop these chemicals being released. This reduces symptoms like swelling, redness and itching. Steroid cream also helps in treating itchiness that cause by eczema.
Treat fungal infection. When you mix steroid cream with topical antifungal (corticosteroid), it can treat various fungal infections such as ringworm of the foot, groin, and body. Topical corticosteroids help to relieve the redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort caused by the infection by exerting three actions:
- They kill the fungal cells.
- They prevent the fungal cells to grow and reproduce.
- Topical antifungals target the fungal cell membrane and the fungal cell wall (both structures surround and protect the fungal cells). When either of these structures is compromised, the fungal cell can burst open and lead to leakage of contents and eventually death of the fungal cell.
Treat skin infection. They change how immune cells work. The immune system fights infection with an array of defensive cells meant to neutralize foreign substances like viruses or bacteria. When this happens, the immune cells release toxins into the body which add to the inflammation. Steroids work by tempering this action and preventing tissue damage that excessive inflammation can cause.
As a general rule, use the weakest possible steroid that will do the job. It is often appropriate to use a potent preparation for a short time to ensure the skin condition clears completely.