​How Good or Bad Are Steroid Creams?

​How Good or Bad Are Steroid Creams?

Jennie Lyon

How Good or Bad Are Steroid Creams?

Sadly, there aren’t many options out there for effective and reliable eczema treatment. You can change your diet, avoid environmental triggers, and moisturize daily but once you experience a flare up, you have to accept that it will take a little time for it to resolve itself and heal. Wet wrap therapy can be a godsend if your child is dealing with severe eczema, but what if it’s only a mild case? Should it be “Steroid creams to the rescue”?

There is a lot of information out there about the use of steroid creams, some true and some not so true. Many people are afraid to use them, as they have heard that they could be hit by a slew of nasty side effects. So the question has to be asked, are steroid creams good or bad for the treatment of eczema?


Corticosteroids, which differ from anabolic steroids occasionally used by athletes, work by reducing inflammation and itchiness. In other words, they produce the exact effect you want if you have a flare up. Corticosteroids come in a variety of different formulations and strengths, depending on the ailment and severity. Steroid lotions are generally the weakest, creams are in the middle when it comes to potency, and ointments are strongest. Although corticosteroids are not a complete cure, they are an incredibly effective treatment for damaged and painful skin conditions.

Like most medications, corticosteroids have their side effects, both long and short term. In the short term, applying the cream to already painful skin can burn or sting. In the long term, the overuse of these creams can lead to skin-thinning, changes in skin color, and Red Skin Syndrome (RSS).

What is RSS?

RSS is, basically, a steroid cream addiction. Your body starts to require the cream to reduce inflammation, and if it doesn’t get it, the inflammation can get far worse. The only way to fix this condition is to “detox” your body and go through a period of experiencing the full symptoms until your body finally readjusts.

Side effects like this are often thrown around as great, and common, dangers. However, with responsible use, steroid creams are a vital part of eczema treatment. As with any medication, there’s a potential for misuse but by following your doctor’s instructions and using the creams carefully, there is little to no danger. That’s particularly true with the weaker and most common type of corticosteroid, Hydrocortisone 1%.

Hydrocortisone 1%

Generally, the treatment for Hydrocortisone 1% is to apply the cream two times a day in a thin, even layer onto the damaged skin. Your doctor could, of course, offer a different course of treatment, especially in the case of more severe forms of eczema. When using a medication, always listen to your doctor and follow their instructions.

In the end, unless your doctor recommends otherwise, there is no reason not to use steroid cream to help treat eczema. Steroid creams are safe, effective, and can greatly increase the quality of life of the person using them. Avoid “overdosing” with them—never use more than is prescribed by your doctor—and everything should be fine.

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