The most common side effect of topical corticosteroid use is skin atrophy. All topical steroids can induce atrophy, but higher potency steroids, occlusion, thinner skin, and older patient age increase the risk. The face, the backs of the hands, and intertriginous areas are particularly susceptible. Resolution often occurs after discontinuing use of these agents, but it may take months. Concurrent use of topical tretinoin (Retin-A) % may reduce the incidence of atrophy from chronic steroid applications. 30 Other side effects from topical steroids include permanent dermal atrophy, telangiectasia, and striae.
“After giving birth to my son (who’s almost 4), then my daughter (almost 2), I had disastrous-looking eczema on my legs. I couldn't wear skirts or shorts without major stares, or someone asking ‘What's wrong with your legs?’ I hate to say it, but the only thing that worked was using tanning booth for 5 minutes, 3 days a week. When I was inside the booth, I covered my face and body with towels and only exposed my legs—and my rashes vanished almost completely within 6 weeks. When I confessed this to my doctor, she nodded her head and told me it was OK as long as I didn't stay in it too long, and that UV exposure often helps eczema. Spending time in the sun outdoors works too, but you might have to stay out in the rays a bit longer. To keep the results up, I also smear my legs with a thick layer of moisturizer at least once a day.” — Suzanne, 39, Montreal