In Nigeria and many parts of the world, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies are cashing in on the sale of over the counter steroid containing tube creams. This phenomenon is not as a result of the increased incidence of skin diseases among the general public but because of a marketing strategy that daily application of a topical steroid is a prevention strategy and a sure way to have flawless, smooth skin.
Many women mix these creams into their body creams and apply them on the skins of their children and on their own skin to lighten the skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of the steroid may cause an initial masking and/or suppression of skin diseases giving a short-lived effect of smooth, healthy skin till the adverse effects begin to rear their ugly heads.
Alarmingly, most of the over the counter topical steroids have potent steroid compositions and this invariably harms the skin with prolonged daily use (usually weeks to months). Very potent steroids are only prescribed by doctors for a short period of time due to the adverse effects yet some people apply these daily on their skin for months to years.
Funbact-A and Epiderm cream contain Betamethasone Dipropionate, Visita Plus contains Beclomethasone Dipropionate and Skineal and Dermovate contain Clobetasol propionate. These 3 compounds are the most potent of topical steroids and up to 600 times as potent as hydrocortisone!
They are definitely not for use as cosmetics.
As you can see above, potent topical steroids are NEVER indicated for children unless with a doctor’s prescription and are not meant for anyone- not even adults to use as over the counter medication or cosmetics.
Some of the side effects of topical steroids include the following:
- Stretch marks especially on the arms, buttocks, thighs and groin which are wide and sometimes red or purple in colour
- Skin thinning and easy bruising- the skin gets injured easily and doesn’t heal on time making it difficult for doctors to suture deep wounds.
- Enlarged blood vessels are noticed on the skin of people who abuse potent steroid creams.
- Abnormal hair growth on the face and chest especially noticed in females who abuse potent topical steroid creams.
- Fungal infections- ring worm, candida, intertrigo, athlete’s foot, jock itch, tinea versicolor and tinea incognito all have increased incidence and are more florid.
- Bacterial infections- pus-filled rashes, infected pimples, folliculitis, boils, impetigo are more frequently seen and more severe.
- Elevated blood pressure- potent topical steroids are absorbed into the blood circulation and affect the adrenal gland leading to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome which leads to salt retention and hypertension.
- Truncal Obesity- potent topical steroids are absorbed into the blood circulation and affect the adrenal gland leading to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome which leads to obesity which is worse in the abdomen and relatively spares the limbs. There may also be fat deposition between the shoulders called Buffalo Hump and on the face.
- Various skin diseases- Potent topical steroids may lead to skin conditions like steroid acne (a type of pimples), perioral dermatitis (rashes around the mouth) and alter the appearance of other skin diseases making them difficult to diagnose and treat.
- Diabetes Mellitus- potent topical steroids are absorbed into the blood circulation and affect the adrenal gland leading to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome which leads to glucose intolerance and overt diabetes.
- Skin discolouration- seen usually on the face, knuckles, hands and feet. This is due to sunburns and uneven depigmentation of the skin by the steroids.
- Steroid withdrawal syndrome- A rash with a burning sensation that occurs some days after discontinuing months of use of a potent steroid.
The use of steroid-containing ‘tube’ creams as cosmetics for children and for adults is dangerous and frowned upon by medical practitioners.
Please say NO to Drug Abuse. Preserve your skin and your health!