Do cortisone creams have side effects?

There is no reason to worry about cortisone.

Has your doctor prescribed you topical corticosteroids? You have nothing to worry about. Misconceptions surrounding the side effects of topical corticosteroids are common. This is because they are often confused with oral cortisone treatments. This is a shame, because the primary side effect of cortisone creams, when used correctly, is a better quality of life!

Your body produces natural cortisone

Cortisone cream is the go-to treatment for eczema, and for good reason. This anti-inflammatory is highly effective. In fact, your body produces it as its best defense against inflammation, under the name cortisol.

Cortisol provides our body with fuel, so that you can wake up to your 8 o’clock alarm. It is produced all day long, with a slight dip at approximately 3:00 am. This hormone is involved in metabolizing sugar and fats, as well as regulating sleep, the immune system and our stress level (in response to the stresses of everyday life).

Cortisone cream does not make you “puff up”

Anyone who tells you that topical corticosteroids (cortisone applied to the skin) cause weight gain or bloating in the face are confusing them with the possible side effects of systemic cortisone treatments (administered orally or by injection). Only cortisone tablets or shots can cause these types of side effects (high blood pressure, osteoporosis, etc.), and your doctor has prescribed you a totally different form to treat your eczema.

Why does cortisone cause side effects such as bloating when taken orally, but not when applied to the skin directly?

The reason for this is, although a small amount will penetrate the skin and enter the body, this amount is always at much lower than when cortisone is ingested or injected directly into the bloodstream.  Side effects are directly linked to the amount of cortisone absorbed and appear only when taken systemically in large quantities over a long period of time.


Babies can be treated safely

Can you use cortisone cream on babies? Of course.

Even babies under one year old? There is no risk, even for infants, because cortisone has no side effects when applied to the skin. It is to date the most effective treatment against flare-ups: baby will finally sleep better, and so will you!


Topical corticosteroids do not cause addiction

Topical corticosteroids are the standard treatment against eczema flare-ups: they must be applied at the first sight of redness and then stopped when the eczema subsides. Atopic eczema is a chronic disease, however, so flare-ups will eventually come back. This in no way means that topical corticosteroids are ineffective or that their effect is wearing off...

If the efficacy of a topical corticosteroid—applied correctly—has diminished compared to the start of treatment, then the problem lies elsewhere.

Either the cream being used in unsuitable (class is too weak = topical corticosteroid is not potent enough), or it is being used incorrectly, usually due to insufficient doses being applied. Although delivered in a cream format, topical corticosteroids are still a medicine, with a dose and frequency of application that must be followed.

Although this requires some sacrifice and consistency, this routine is the key to a successful treatment.


Feel free to go out in the sun without fear

Of course, you still need to follow the usual rules of photoprotection! But you can do so with peace of mind, knowing that topical corticosteroids have no reaction to sun exposure (unlike nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ketoprofen).

Should you apply sun protection before or after the topical corticosteroid?

After. Sun cream is applied last.

The standard, most effective treatment

Treating eczema patches with topical corticosteroids is crucial because they are the best means of soothing itching and scratching quickly. This enables you to regain considerable comfort in your daily life, but that’s not all: it helps prevent the disease from entering into a vicious cycle.

Only two exceptions

The most potent topical corticosteroids must not be applied to the face daily for more than one month, as they may cause the skin to become fragile and red.

The long-term application of topical corticosteroids to the thighs and chest (in women) may lead to stretch marks. For this reason, pregnant women with atopic dermatitis must be careful when applying topical corticosteroids to the stomach in order to prevent the risks of stretch marks.