Topical corticosteroids

Corticosteroids applied to the skin rarely induce adverse side effects, although certain ones have been observed during prolonged treatment with high doses of powerful forms of topical corticosteroids(e.g., cataract, diabetes…).

Local side effects can also occur:

  • fragility of the skin, difficulty healing cuts, spontaneous bruising caused by minor trauma and stretch marks
  • acne, rosacea or perioral dermatitis (picture) when applied to the face
  • hair growth
  • increased risk of local infections (e.g. abscesses, herpes)
  • discolouration of the skin
  • contact dermatitis (very rare)

Useful references
  • Coureau B et al. Cushing’s syndrome induced by misuse of moderate- to high-potency topical corticosteroids. Ann Pharmacother. 2008
  • Tempark T et al. Exogenous Cushing’s syndrome due to topical corticosteroid application: case report and review literature. Endocrine. 2010
  • Tadicherla S et al. Topical corticosteroids in dermatology. J Drugs Dermatol. 2009
  • Joly P et al. A comparison of two regimens of topical corticosteroids in the treatment of patients with bullous pemphigoid: a multicenter randomized study. J Invest Dermatol. 2009