Side effects of topical corticosteroids

The most common side effect of topical corticosteroids is aburning or stinging sensation when the medication is applied. However, thisusually improves as your skin gets used to the treatment.

Less commonside effects can include:

  • worsening of a pre-existing skin infection
  • folliculitisinflamed hair follicles
  • thinning of the skin this can make the affected skin more vulnerable to damage; for example, you may bruise more easily
  • stretch marks which are likely to be permanent, althoughthey'll probably become less noticeable over time
  • contact dermatitis skin irritation caused by a mild allergic reaction to the substances in a particular topical corticosteroid
  • acne , or worsening of existing acne
  • rosacea a condition that causes the face to become red and flushed
  • changes in skin colour this is usually more noticeable in people with dark skin
  • excessive hair growth on the area of skin being treated

Side effects are more likely if you're:

  • using a more potent corticosteroid
  • using it for a very long time, or over a large area

The elderly and very young are more vulnerable to side effects.

If potent or very potenttopical corticosteroidsare used for a longtime or over a large area, there's a risk of the medicationbeing absorbed into the bloodstream and causing internal side effects, such as:

  • decreased growth in children
  • Cushing's syndrome

This is not a full list of all the possible side effects. For more information on side effects,see the leaflet that comes with your medication.

Reporting side effects

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you're taking. It's run bythe medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

See the Yellow Card Scheme website for more information.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018