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Eczema Treatment – Corticosteroids and the Side Effects

There’s really no known cure for eczema. An eczema treatment can only do as much as lessening the symptoms of the skin disease. What are these symptoms? Constant itching, redness, swelling, scaling and thickening of the affected skin areas are the most common. However, the symptoms experienced by vary from one person to the other, as well as where in the body eczema is found.

One of the best interventions done on someone with eczema is to prevent the development of symptoms by avoiding exposure to triggering factors. The mildest symptoms may of course be easily remedied by moisturizers and compresses, which are great for preventing skin dryness and itching. But once skin inflammation is already present, such remedies may become less effective in delivering the job.

The worst of eczema symptoms may be effectively managed by anti-inflammatory agents, such as steroid-based corticosteroids. Whether in prescription or nonprescription forms, corticosteroids are a widely used treatment for eczema. What are corticosteroids? They are related to a hormone naturally produced by the body, which is essential for the reduction of the body’s natural inflammatory response. Since the mid-1950, corticosteroids have been used for many inflammatory skin diseases, including eczema.

Different Forms of Corticosteroids

There are several forms in which corticosteroids are utilized for the treatment of eczema. They may be in topical forms, the kind of preparations applied onto the skin – ointments, lotions, creams and foams. These kinds of corticosteroids preparations are often used for mild to moderate inflammation of the eczematous skin. For severe cases, doctors often prescribe oral and injected forms of corticosteroids. These forms are the last resort – when the topical preparations fail to resolve the symptoms. They are not recommended for use by pregnant women afflicted with eczema. Studies have shown that certain birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate may be linked to the use of systemic corticosteroids during pregnancy.

Potential Side Effects of Corticosteroids

Many people suffering from eczema and their families are apprehensive about the use of corticosteroids because of the potential side effects associated with the treatment. However, such fear may be lessened by working with a highly competent doctor who have had prescribed the treatment before to other patients, and got satisfactory results.

Still, as with any other treatment that deals with medications, no matter how effective it is, side effects are a major concern. Researches revealed that the side effects are related to the dosage and potency of corticosteroids used. Also, the mode of administration – topical, oral or systemic – as well as the length of treatment, patient’s age, and the site of the eczematous skin all contribute to the gravity of the side effects. What are these side effects? They include:

Cataract – May be the result of high dosages of corticosteroids and topical application around the eye area for a long time.

Glaucoma – This results from topical application of corticosteroids near or around the eye area, as well as when administered systemically.
Nausea and vomiting – Found to result from taking oral preparations of corticosteroids. Such effects may be curtailed by taking the medication with food.

Osteoporosis – Loss of bone density, especially among female patients who are undergoing long-term treatment.

Skin effects – May include the development of stretch marks, acne, rashes, infections, dilatation of blood vessels; often result from employment of topical corticosteroids.

The key to safe and effective eczema treatment such as the use of corticosteroids is by using them under the supervision of a doctor. It is important that the doctor keeps a watchful eye of the patients during the treatment.


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