In my teens, I was first introduced to using hydrocortisone cream for my eczema treatment. Since then, every time I had an outbreak, I would turn to it. This continued for more than ten years. However, in the last few years, I noticed that increasingly applying hydrocortisone creams on my affected skin is not as effective as before. In fact, it got harder and harder to control my eczema. My affected skin also got thinner and I would get abrasions very easily. I then decided to find out the truth behind the side effects of using hydrocortisone creams.
Hydrocortisone cream (1%) is one kind of topical corticosteroids and is easily available at your local store without prescription. They are packaged in various forms such as creams and lotions and are marketed under different brands.
Corticosteroid creams are topical skin applications which are used for skin itching, redness, discomfort and other skin-related problems. They come in varying strengths. Stronger ones are only available via prescription by your doctor. Corticosteroids are referred to as steroids. The term steroids often have a negative ring to it because of a number of side effects that this drug is known to bring. Corticosteroids for eczema are different from anabolic steroids, which are used by some athletes to increase their endurance.
However, just like any other type of drugs, hydrocortisone cream for eczema treatment also has its own side effects especially if you do not administer it properly. You should always check to see if you are allergic to steroids in the first place. Ask your doctor if in doubt. Secondly, as I have found out, prolonged use can cause skin to thin out. This is a condition known as atrophy. Because your skin is now more sensitive due to thinning out, you are more prone to skin abrasion and infection. That is why if you have eczema and have used hydrocortisone cream for weeks or months, you are more susceptible to a fungi and bacteria infection. With an infection, your eczema symptoms are sure to worsen.
You also get the appearance of stretch marks with prolonged use. Your blood vessels swell and there is loss of skin pigment in the affected areas. Your bloodstream may also absorb the strong steroids and this can affect other body systems. In the worst case scenario, it can also suppress the production of your natural adrenaline, thus causing you to be prone to a lot of illness including Cushing’s syndrome.
In all situations, it is in your best interest to minimize the use of hydrocortisone creams or corticosteroids for your eczema treatment. If you need to use them, do so sparingly and use only as directed. If you find that your medication is not working within a week, stop its usage and see a skin doctor right away. You may need a stronger prescription. It is far better to treat your eczema with an appropriate strength medication than to use one that is not effective. A stronger prescription also allows you to get your eczema treated within a shorter period of time. In addition, look for alternative eczema treatment options which are natural and potentially produce fewer or no side effects.