What are topical steroids?
Topical corticosteroids have been used to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis for more than 50 years. As anti-inflammatories, they reduce redness and swelling, suppress the immune system and constrict blood vessels in the skin. Topical steroids are divided into seven groups based on their potency levels, ranging from Group I (most potent) to Group VII (least potent).
About hydrocortisone 1%
A common Group VII corticosteroid is hydrocortisone. It is chemically similar to cortisol, which is a hormone produced by your body. Though it comes in different strengths, hydrocortisone 1% is widely available over the counter.
Risks with topical steroid use
The chance and severity of side effects of topical steroids depend on the dose, type of steroid and length of treatment. Long-term use of topical steroids may result in unwanted side effects such as
- Thinning, bruising and tearing of the skin
- Stretch marks
- Enlarged blood vessels
- Susceptibility to skin infections
- Development of allergy to the topical steroid treatment
This is why hydrocortisone 1% carries a warning that it should not be used more than 7 days at a time without consulting a doctor.
Benefits of going steroid free
Steroid-free topical treatments such as TriCalm deliver effective itch relief without the unwanted side effects of steroids and they are safe to use as often as needed. In fact, TriCalm hydrogel is clinically shown to significantly reduce itch intensity and duration, without the use of steroids. Learn more about steroid use.