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Steroid Cream for Eczema

Eczema is a common skin problem that is often frustrating to treat. One of the most common treatments used for eczema is the steroid cream. Knowing what and how to use steroid cream for eczema is important if you want to relieve your symptoms effectively.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is a common skin problem that consists of a group of conditions characterized by skin inflammation and irritation (dermatitis). It usually affects infants (about 10-20 percent) and up to three percent of older children and adults. Although most infants outgrow this problem by the time they reach the age of ten, some people experience on and off symptoms throughout their lives.

The two main types of eczema include:

Atopic eczema. Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. The exact cause is unknown, but the body develops a tendency for skin inflammation on various parts of the body. Symptoms may come and go even without treatment, but steroid cream is commonly used.

Contact dermatitis. This skin condition may be triggered by a substance outside your body, causing patches of skin inflammation on areas that have come in contact with the offending substance. Avoiding the substance usually makes the inflammation go away. Symptoms are often treated with steroid cream for eczema.

Steroid Cream for Eczema

There is no cure for eczema, but there are many ways you can treat its symptoms. One of these is to use steroid cream, which is applied directly on the affected area of the skin. Here is some information about the use of steroid cream for eczema.

1. How Does Steroid Cream Work?

Topical steroids work by reducing skin inflammation through different mechanisms of action. They can:

Alter the chemicals that cause inflammation. The steroid molecules are transported to the nucleus of the cell where it produces proteins (lipocortins), which prevent production of arachidonic acid and other chemicals that trigger inflammation in the body. Other inflammatory chemicals include leukotrienes, platelet-activating factor, and prostaglandins.

Constrict your blood vessels. Areas of skin with dilated (widened) capillaries are warm, red, and swollen. Topical steroid cream can cause narrowing or constriction of small blood vessels (capillaries), thus reducing swelling, redness, and warmth.

Modify immune system function. Topical steroids can modify the function of immune system calls. They can reduce the ability of white blood cells to react to foreign substances and decrease inflammation.

2. Commonly Used Steroid Creams for Eczema

Topical steroids may come in various preparations, which include creams, ointments, gels, lotions, mousses, or solutions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about how to use them properly.

Here is a list of commonly used steroid creams, which may be available over-the counter or prescribed by your doctors to treat eczema.

Class

Brand

Generic

CLASS 1- Superpotent

Clobex, 0.05%

Clobetasol propionate

 

Temovate, 0.05%      

Clobetasol propionate

 

Diprolene, 0.05%

Betamethasone dipropionate

 

Ultravate, 0.05%      

Halobetasol propionate

 

Vanos, 1%  

Fluocinonide

CLASS 2 - Potent

Diprolene, 0.05%     

Betamethasone dipropionate

 

Elocon,0.1%      

Mometasone furoate

 

Florone, 0.05%  

Diflorasone diacetate

 

Halog, 0.1%      

Halcinonide

 

Topicort, 0.25%

Desoximetasone

 

Lidex, 0.05%    

Fluocinonide

CLASS 3 - Upper Mid-Strength

Cutivate, 0.005%     

Fluticasone propionate

 

Lidex-E, 0.05%

Fluocinonide

 

Luxiq, 0.12%    

Betamethasone valerate

CLASS 4 - Mid-Strength

Cordran, 0.05%

Flurandrenolide

 

Elocon, 0.1%  

Mometasone furoate

 

Topicort LP, 0.05%  

Desoximetasone

 

Synalar, 0.03%  

Fluocinolone acetonide

 

Kenalog, 0.1%  

Triamcinolone acetonide

CLASS 5 - Lower Mid-Strength

Cordran, 0.05%

Flurandrenolide

 

Cutivate, 0.05%       

Fluticasone propionate

 

DermAtop, 0.1%      

Prednicarbate

 

DesOwen, 0.05%     

Desonide

 

Locoid, 0.1%    

Hydrocortisone

CLASS 6 - Mild

Aclovate, 0.05%      

Alclometasone dipropionate

 

Derma-Smoothe/FS, 0.01%       

Fluocinolone acetonide

 

Desonate, 0.05%      

Desonide

CLASS 7 - Least Potent

Cetacort Lotion, 0.5%/1%

Hydrocortisone

 

Hytone, 1%/2.5%     

Hydrocortisone

 

Cortaid

Hydrocortisone

3. How to Use Steroid Creams

Topical steroid cream for eczema is usually applied once or twice a day as your doctor recommends. Use a small amount to gently rub on inflamed areas of skin until it disappears. Then wash it off your hands unless they are being treated, too.

Topical steroid cream may be applied to the skin as measured in fingertip units or FTUs. When you squeeze a tube of steroid cream with a normal 5 mm nozzle, you get one FTU of topical steroid, which is the amount that fits on your fingertip from the end of your finger to the first crease. This amount is enough to treat an area that is twice the size of your flat hand.

One gram of topical steroid can treat about two FTUs. If used twice daily, a steroid cream that contains 30g may be used to treat an area the size of your hand for 15 days.

Common Mistakes When Using Steroid Cream 

A common mistake about using steroid cream for eczema is that some people are too cautious and use too little cream. Some people undertreat eczema because of their fear of using too much topical steroids, which often leads to long-term use of the steroid cream since the inflammation never completely clears up. Children who are undertreated may be uncomfortable or distressed for a long time if the inflammation does not improve immediately. Flare-ups clear up fully if the steroid cream is used correctly.

Another common mistake is that some people apply too much steroid cream. This topical medication must be used only as directed by a doctor. Do not continue to use topical steroid for eczema daily when the irritation has cleared up to prevent recurrence. However, some people may need continuous steroid cream treatment for severe eczema under close medical supervision. In addition, people who are suffering from eczema should use moisturizers or emollients daily to help prevent flare-ups.