The Controversial Truth About Cortisone and Steroid Eczema Creams

cortisone cream

Have you ever wondered? What is the point? Using steroid Eczema creams again and again often seems like you are trapped in a cycle of hell. It gets a little bit better, then it gets much worst. Nothing seems to work.

They promise your Eczema will go away by using magical steroid creams, yet they always just seem to “push” it away for a short time, only for it to emerge stronger causing new levels of hellish Eczema suffering.

The skin is an organ. Having severe chronic Eczema is arguably no different from being partially disabled. Like any organ, when it fails to work it causes all sorts of problems in your ability to live normally. Others may say it’s only cracking bleeding skin, it isn’t lethal. I beg to differ.

Not only is intense itching and irritation an incessant assault on the senses, severe Eczema can indeed be life-threatening.

Of course, Eczema is a spectrum, going from the light flare-up to severe peeling and bleeding of the skin. Not everyone has Eczema so bad that is impairs their daily function, however, a lot of people with chronic Eczema do.

Those who have chronic Eczema know the dilemma with steroid creams. Today I am going to discuss more about that.

Are Steroid Creams Good?

The answer is somewhat in-between. A lot of naturalists would tell you steroids are completely evil, that is not the case, as we will learn – they work when used correctly, however, a lot of doctors over prescribe them and people overuse them, and that causes more problems.

I have a great deal of experience with steroids. They are the first solution I tried, the first thing the doctors prescribed me, tons of them when I was young, at one point I even had them injected into my body weekly. It was disastrous.

They caused more problems than they solved for me, my skin would essentially never heal and be permanently scarred because of extensive steroid use.

I was using powerful steroids in the wrong way because I lacked my current knowledge. It caused my skin to be constantly thick, and thin, flaking, dry, red and itchy. Everytime I used a steroid cream it would alleviate the Eczema a little bit only for a little bit, then the Eczema would come back stronger.

What Do Steroid Creams Do and Why They Make Things Worst?

Steroid creams clinically called topical steroids are creams, ointments and lotions which contain steroid chemicals. Typical ones are Clobetasol Propionate Ointment, Hydrocortisone, Dermovate, Betnovate to just name a few of varying strengths.

They work by suppressing inflammation in the skin, they are used for many skin conditions including Eczema. Sometimes they are called corticosteroids to differentiate from the anabolic steroids used by bodybuilders.

Why are they both called steroids you may ask?

Steroid creams mimic hormones in your body, that are normally produced naturally in your adrenal glands. When you put a steroid cream on your Eczema, it works by exceeding the usual hormone levels in that area, which results in suppressing your immune system in that area.

To understand why steroids cause problems we need to understand that hormones are very very powerful chemicals in the body.

You may be familiar with the fact that anabolic steroids (used by bodybuilders) can cause side effects like shrinking testicles, baldness and skin problems. Only a small amount of Testosterone makes a difference between a man and woman.

Anything that messes with the hormonal balance in your body causes cascading effects, if you think about it – it’s common sense. It isn’t pleasant for women to take abortion pills because of the disruption it causes to their bodies.

So what exactly do steroid creams (corticosteroids) do to the skin? They work clinically by suppressing gene expression in the skin, genes that are activated when inflammation happens, when overused they also interact with DNA recognition sites to inhibit transcription of several genes responsible for normal functioning.

This extreme action of how steroid cream works is why doctors see instant results, but people who have experience with chronic Eczema and steroid creams know they cause side effects. They fundamentally affect the complex ecosystem in your skin, altering the structure by causing steroid induced skin atrophy.

Steroid creams at infrequent low doses don’t usually cause any side effects, but frequent use at high doses will cause problems often. This becomes a problem rapidly for people with chronic Eczema, as the Eczema is bound to return frequently if the underlying cause is untreated.

High strength steroid creams are the equivalent of using nuclear bombs on your skin.

Side Effects Steroid Creams and Ointment Use Can Cause

So Steroid Creams pretty much works by changing how your DNA is expressed, the side effects come from the fact it inhibits a bunch of stuff that is functioning normally in your skin.

This causes the many side effects I and many other eczema sufferes have observed, and well documented across the internet and by medical literature.

High corticosteroid use can lead to skin thinning, chronic dry skin, when used around the eyes it will cause glaucoma, eventually risking blindness.

When applied to the face steroid creams (some of which are available without prescription in the UK2) can raise the IOP and irreversibly damage the visual field

The skin ends up being thicker, dry all the time, thinner and looks aged and wrinkly because of all the structural changes the steroid creams have caused it.

It is also impossible to apply steroid creams exactly to the point where it isn’t too little or too much meaning using steroid creams repeatedly is bound to cause Eczema to worsen not better, but in my videos I will show you how to do this to increase the positive effects of steroid creams whilst reducing the side effects.

Are Immunosuppressants like Tacrolimus and Elidel considered Steroid Creams?

No, they are not, which is why I prefer them over traditional steroid creams like Betnovate. In my experience immunosuppressants cause some of the side effects of Steroid creams but to a much less degree to traditional steroid creams. I use different creams for different parts of the body, for me, steroid creams are used in hard to penetrate areas that refuse to subside, it also has to be applied specifically so the steroid cream doesn’t affect normal skin.

The risks of immunosuppressants come with the name, suppressing the immune system of the skin can have other side effects, but in general those are much more benign than those caused by steroid creams.

Neither creams should be used daily in my opinion, especially not over months or years.

What Do Doctors Get Wrong and What’s Next?

Doctors get it wrong because, from their point of view, Steroid Creams used in plentiful amounts always causes Eczema to subside or go away, but what they don’t realise is over longer periods of time it causes the skin to change and become worst, when they see it coming back, that they just attribute it to the Eczema and not the cream.

This is why doctors overprescribe steroid creams as a miracle cure, but any long-term Eczema sufferer knows something is wrong and they are right.

It is frustrating because you keep bombarding your skin with these powerful chemicals, and there is no end in sight. What needs to be done is managing and treating your Eczema at the core, this can be done, it just takes knowledge and understanding.

Should you use steroids or not use steroids? The answer is definetely yes, but only in small isolated patches of time and only when the situation is so bad no natural alternatives can solve the problem, and there are plenty of natural alternatives before you resort to steroid creams.

Am I missing anything? Let me know in the comments : )



1 Comment

  • Sarah Cummings Reply

    I used to have eczema behind my ears and it was really embarrassing. The doctor dutifully prescribed a steroid cream and it did work, but as you said, only temporarily. I didn’t realise that they were actually bad for eczema. At least I know now!

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