As a mother, I have long known about topical steroid creams.
When I had my first daughter, she developed skin eczema at age 7 months old.
My baby daughter would scratch on her upper hand non stop until her skin starts to bleed.
As a new mother, seeing your newborn hand bleeding caused by her own finger nails is a very hard experience.
I remembered bringing my daughter to the pediatric specialist and asking the doctor what treatment I can give her.
The doctor recommended topical steroid cream.
Being a first time mother, I didn’t know much and bought the prescribed medical cream from the doctor.
But at the back of my mind, I know anything which has steroid in it may not be good for my newborn baby girl.
So I decided to do some research to find out more about it.
What is topical steroids?
According to the official MyHealth portal of the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia:
Topical steroids or also known as corticosteroids are medications commonly used for the treatment of eczema, rash, dermatitis and psoriasis, skin swelling, redness, itching and discomfort caused by insect bites and skin rashes.
The main function of topical steroids is to suppresses inflammation on the skin and help to relieve itching and redness.
In general, it comes in ointments, cream or lotion form.
Ointments are usually used for people with dry and scaly skin.
Creams and lotion are usually recommended for people with moist or weepy skin.
The negative side effects of topical steroids
The following are 11 negative side effects of long term usage of topical steroid cream, ointment or lotion according to the MyHealth portal.
- Burning, itching or peeling skin
- Red or swollen skin
- Thinning of skin known as atrophy – The repeated use of topical steroids in the same area can cause the thinning of the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and changes in the connective tissue of the dermis (middle layer of skin). When this happens, the skin can degenerate and become lax, wrinkled, and shiny.
- Stretch marks known as striae
- Enlarged blood vessel which is prominent under the skin surface known as telangiectasia
- Easy bruising
- Development of tolerance after repeated used
- Temporary loss of pigment in the skin known as hypopigmentation
- Increase risk to infection
- Increase hair growth
- Allergic to topical steroids
After reading the above list, I am glad that I was careful with using corticosteroid products on my baby girl.
As a mother, my concern about steroid cream is no unfounded.
According to an article published in Reuters Health:
Many people with eczema, a common skin disease, may avoid creams and ointments that can help ease symptoms like itching and inflammation because they’re afraid to try topical corticosteroids, a recent study suggests.
If you are mother and your children has eczema, and you are concern about the negative side effects of topical steroid cream, what other option do you have?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.