Tips for Using Topical Corticosteroids

  • Use the least potent corticosteroid possible to control the inflammation.
  • Only apply the corticosteroid to areas of skin affected by the skin disease.
  • It is most effective to apply corticosteroids immediately after bathing.
  • Emollients may work better if applied to wet skin. Do not wet the skin without applying an emollient afterwards.
  • Only use the corticosteroid as often as prescribed by your doctor — more than twice daily increases the risks but not the benefits of corticosteroids; for many topical corticosteroids, once-a-day application is sufficient.
  • Do not use a topical corticosteroid as a moisturizer.
  • Wherever possible, avoid using large quantities of corticosteroids for long periods of time.
  • Be aware that certain areas of skin – the face, genitals, raw skin, thin skin and areas of skin that rub together, such as beneath the breasts or between the buttocks or thighs – absorb more corticosteroid than other areas.
  • Applying dressings over the area of skin treated with the corticosteroid increases the potency and absorption of corticosteroid into the skin. Only use dressings with topical corticosteroids if advised to do so by a physician.
  • Once the inflammation is under control, reduce or stop using the corticosteroid. Remember: a proper bathing and moisturizing practice helps prevent flare-ups.