Topical corticosteroids (steroids) are a common treatment option for a variety of dermatological conditions. The reason is that they promote anti-inflammatory responses by suppressing the immune system’s response. Typically prescribed for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and rashes, if prescribed appropriately they can yield very effective results.
This effectiveness however can lead to patients developing a dependency on them. Initially, after stopping the topical steroid, the condition may come back with a vengeance. So quite often, people will continue to apply the steroid even after the condition clears, and in doing so, severe side effects can arise. Examples include, atrophy of the skin (the consistency in the area of skin where the cream was used becomes comparable to saran wrap) or striae (thick red lines that look like stretch marks). A way to avoid potential addiction is through the use of a stagger program. This can be done by using the topical steroid twice a day for two weeks, then taking one week off.
Although topical steroids are an effective option, if not administered properly it can lead to serious issues.