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How to use topical steroids

October 18, 2019

Hello my name is Tom and I’m a
dermatology doctor here at St John’s Institute of Dermatology. In this short
video I’ll describe how to use topical steroids both safely and effectively.
This video is not a replacement for the advice given to you by your doctor or
specialist nurse. Therefore if you are in doubt please consult your specialist
before using any of your prescribed treatments. Topical steroids are steroid
preparations that are applied directly to the skin. They are used to treat a
wide variety of skin conditions and work by reducing inflammation making the skin
less red and itchy. It is important to remember that topical steroids come in different strengths. Stronger steroids tend to be used on the body whilst
weaker steroids are used on the face and skin folds. They come as ointments or
creams. Steroid ointments are oilier and are therefore better for treating drier
skin. Before applying topical steroids wash and dry your hands thoroughly apply
a fingertip amount by squeezing the ointment in a line from the last crease
of the finger to the tip and this is the amount of steroid needed to treat the
area of skin represented by two hands laid flat with the fingers together.
Topical steroids are usually only applied to affected areas of skin but
please do use them as directed by your doctor or nurse. Avoid applying steroids
with emollients as this will dilute their effectiveness. Always wash and dry your
hands thoroughly after applying topical steroids. Topical steroids have been used
by dermatologists for over 50 years and the type of steroids found in these
preparations are similar to those produced naturally in the body. Some
people worry about skin thinning as a side effect of topical steroids but if
you use them correctly and as advised by your doctor or specialist nurse,
the risk of this is very low. We hope you found this video useful, for more
information please download our educational leaflet by following the
link below. Thank you.

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