Clinical profile of cutaneous adverse effects induced by topical corticosteroids and their source of information

Aliza Zaidi, Kshitij Saxena, Ven R. Koti, Anukriti Singh, Ayesha Khalid, Reyan A. Jamil


Background: Steroids are a wide range of chemical molecules that have varying physiological effects. Corticosteroids own anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. They also have anti-proliferative effects on keratinocytes. The present study was undertaken to study the clinical aspects of the use of topical corticosteroids leading to adverse effects and to know the source of information leading to its abuse.

Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was carried out on cutaneous adverse effects of TC attending the dermatology outpatient department of Era’s Lucknow medical college and hospital between December 2018 and November 2020. The patients who applied TC for more than 1 month were taken into account. Patients who had cutaneous adverse effects suggestive of TC without details of agents were excluded.

Results: Present study explored the patterns of use of topical corticosteroid, and its associated adverse effects in a total of 380 patients (aged 3 to 71 years; mean age 27.33±11.78 years; 52.9% males). Itching (72.4%), burning skin (64.5%) and skin color change (62.4%) were the three most common presenting complaints. Dermatophytoses (66.6%), acne (17.4%) and skin lightening (6.3%) were the three most common indications for use of topical corticosteroids.

Conclusions: The present study showed that the practice of using non-dermatologist prescribed topical corticosteroid use is highly prevalent and is associated with a high burden of adverse effects. To prevent this there is a need to spread awareness regarding harms associated with abuse of non-dermatologist prescribed topical corticosteroid use.


Dermatophytosis, Topical steroids, Adverse effects, Tachyphylaxis, Atrophy

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