Topical corticosteroids (steroids) are medications applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Topicalcorticosteroids are available in several different forms, including:

  • creams
  • lotions
  • gels
  • mousses
  • ointments

They're available in four different potencies (strengths), known as mild, moderate, potent, and very potent.

Mild corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone,can often be bought over the counter from pharmacies, while stronger types are only available on prescription.

Read about other types of corticosteroids , including tablets, capsules, inhalersand injected corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids shouldn't be confused with anabolic steroids .

Thispage covers:


Who can use them

How to use them

Side effects

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 3 Jan 2017