Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Connect with Facebook Connect with Google For Doctors
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
By creating an account, you are indicating that you have read and accepted the DoctorxDentist Terms of Use.
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of Interests
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
What are your interests?
Please select at least 3 interests.
NEXT
NEXT
Registration Progress
Step 1: Indicate Topics of doctors
Step 2: Follow Relevant Doctors
Complete!
Follow your favourite doctors
We found some doctors you may like. Click continue to follow them.
CONTINUE
CONTINUE
Consult Doctors. FREE.
Real Doctors, Expert Answers
Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

or

OOPS!

SOMETHING WENT WRONG.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

OOPS! SOMETHING

WENT WRONG.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

Continue with Facebook Continue with Google

Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

YOUR QUESTION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUESTION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

YOUR ANSWER

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR QUOTE REQUEST

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL GET

BACK TO YOU SHORTLY!

YOUR THREAD HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION

YOUR THREAD

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

CREATED.

HEAD OVER TO THE FORUM PAGE NOW

TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

YOUR REVIEW HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR REVIEW

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

THANK YOU.

OOPS!

THERE IS SOMETHING

WRONG WITH YOUR EMAIL.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

OOPS! THERE IS

SOMETHING WRONG

WITH YOUR EMAIL.

PLEASE TRY AGAIN.

YOUR EMAIL HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR EMAIL

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBSCRIBED.

THANK YOU.

YOUR CONSULTATION HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS WILL

GET BACK TO YOU SHORTLY.

YOUR CONSULTATION

HAS BEEN

SUCCESSFULLY

SUBMITTED.

OUR DOCTORS

WILL GET

TO YOU

SHORTLY.

MESSAGES TO

5 Ways You Are Using Steroid Creams Wrongly

5 Ways You Are Using Steroid Creams Wrongly undefined

People often think of steroid creams as a supercharged version of household mosquito bite cream because they can get rid of your itchy red patches quickly.

But "magic" comes with some things you should take note of.

Here are five common ways that people misuse steroid creams, and suggestions on how to use them properly.

1. Treating all steroid creams as the same 

blurry picture of pharmacy shelves

Topical corticosteroids, or "steroid creams" as they're more commonly called, is a family of products that come in different strengths. They are usually used to relieve inflammation in skin.

For most itching or irritating skin conditions, it is best to start with the lowest strength and work upwards if they don’t work well.

In Singapore, you can purchase lower strength steroid creams (eg. hydrocortisone or betamethasone) with the advice of a pharmacist from a pharmacy, but you'll need a doctor's prescription for more potent ones.

2. Applying steroids in ointment form on the scalp

oily hair cartoon

 

Ointments and creams are greasy preparations and tend to be more suitable for drier and non-hairy skin areas.

If your skin condition requires you to apply topical corticosteroids to your scalp or any hairy area, you should look out for products that come in a solution or gel form for easier application – less oil and less mess!

3. Applying steroid cream on an open wound 

grazed knee on grass

 

Although tempting, steroid creams CANNOT be used on broken skin. Broken skin usually means when you can see blood on the skin.

Steroid creams are meant only for certain skin conditions which can benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties. Using steroid creams on open wounds can slow down the healing process. Some of the steroids can also be absorbed into the body.

FYI: Topical steroids are meant only to cause an effect wherever it is applied on your skin, and not for absorption into your bloodstream.

They will not heal fungal infections or bacterial infections. What is even worse is that steroids can even alter the appearance of fungal infections, making them harder to diagnose!

4. Using a thick layer of steroid cream  

 

steroid cream 1 finger tip

This is a no-no. Unlike other types of creams (such as non-medicated moisturisers), applying a larger amount or thicker layer of cream does not speed up the healing process.

Parts of the body with thinner skin, such as the eyelids, genitals, and skin creases, tend to absorb the medicine more than other areas. As a general rule, the amount of steroid cream to be applied can be expressed in fingertip units. 

One fingertip unit is when you squeeze a line of cream from the tube going from the tip of an adult’s index finger to the first crease. This amount is typically enough to cover an area of skin TWICE the size of an adult’s hand.

So you see, only a really thin layer is needed for it to work its magic. Also, this means you don’t waste the cream unnecessarily.

For children, the fingertip unit used is still the adult one, and you can measure the volume needed using your hands over the affected area. Do check with your doctor or pharmacist how much to apply as it may vary with skin condition and age too.

5. Using the cream continuously, without stopping

a woman applying cream on a leg

Long-term use of steroid creams is not recommended because it might be potentially dangerous. Using these medicines on the same area daily for months on end can cause the skin at the site to thin and tear easily, and you may see stretch marks appear!

If you use a large amount of cream for a long time, it is likely that more of the steroid component will get absorbed into your body.

Side effects similar to those with long-term oral intake of high-dose steroids can occur. An example is Cushing’s syndrome which is due to high levels of a hormone called cortisol – now that's not fun!


I hope this information is useful as steroid creams always seem to be an easy solution to skin itches, but now you know better!

Don’t hesitate to check how much and how often to use it with your pharmacist or doctor if you're ever in doubt.

To follow the rest of our latest posts, give our Facebook Page a like!

Sarah is a guest writer at DoctorxDentist, and a fully registered pharmacist with the Singapore Pharmacy Council. She’s currently working towards completing a further degree in public health. Things that excite her include a good book, a good cup of coffee and being able to help people use medicines safely.


References:

  1. Zirwas MJ et al. Anti-Pruritic Efficacy of Itch Relief Lotion and Cream in Patients With Atopic History: Comparison With Hydrocortisone Cream. J Drugs Dermatol. (2017)

  2. Bao Q et al. Physicochemical attributes and dissolution testing of ophthalmic ointments. Int J Pharm. (2017)

5176 views 2 Jun 2017 Medically reviewed by DxD on 19 May 2019.
Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other answers tagged Medication & Prescriptions Skin, Hair & Nails or ask your own question now FOR FREE.