General Practice 2022

Ointments corticóides: what they are for and when to use

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Ointments corticóides: what they are for and when to use
Ointments corticóides: what they are for and when to use
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Corticosteroid ointments, such as dexamethasone acetate or betamethasone valerate, are remedies for topical use, that is, use on the skin, indicated in cases of dermatitis, eczema, itching, redness or skin allergies, for example. This is because corticosteroids have a potent anti-inflammatory action, controlling skin inflammation by mimicking the corticosteroid hormones that are naturally produced by the body by the adrenal glands.

In addition, corticosteroid ointments also decrease the immune system response, reduce cell renewal and decrease blood vessel dilation, and therefore, can be used in cases of allergy or skin redness. Know how to identify the signs of skin allergy.

It is important to emphasize that corticosteroid ointments may have different indications depending on the type of corticosteroid present in their composition and, therefore, should only be used with medical indication. In addition, the use of corticosteroid ointment for children should only be done with pediatrician guidance.

What they are for

Corticosteroid ointments are indicated in cases of skin inflammation caused by:

  • Allergic dermatitis;
  • Atopic dermatitis;
  • Eczema;
  • Pumpkin;
  • Impetigo;
  • Insect bites;
  • Psoriasis;
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus.

Also, some corticosteroid ointments can be used in case of sunburn or ear inflammation, such as otitis externa, as long as there is no perforation of the eardrum.

How to use

Corticosteroid ointments should be used on the skin, always at the times established by the doctor, it is recommended to wash the hands and the affected skin with water and neutral soap and dry well before applying the ointment. Then apply the ointment in sufficient quantity to cover the affected region and gently massage the skin to facilitate its absorption.

How to use corticosteroid ointments for adults depends on the type of ointment used and includes:

  • Clobetasol propionate: apply to the affected skin 1 to 2 times a day for a maximum of 4 weeks of treatment;
  • Desonida: It is recommended to apply the ointment on the affected skin 1 to 3 times a day, until symptoms improve;
  • Hydrocortisone acetate: apply to affected skin 2 to 3 times a day until symptoms improve;
  • Dexamethasone acetate: apply to affected skin 2 to 3 times a day until symptoms improve;
  • Betamethasone valerate: apply to the affected skin 1 to 2 times a day for a maximum of 4 weeks of treatment.

It is important to wash your hands after using corticosteroid ointment, except in cases where the ointment is used to treat the skin of the hands.

In addition, you should not cover the treated skin area unless directed by your doctor, as covering the skin can increase the absorption of the ointment and cause side effects.

Possible side effects

Some of the most common side effects that can occur with the use of corticosteroid ointments are skin dryness, itching, redness, burning sensation, stinging or blistering of the treated skin, changes in skin color, bruising or formation of scabs around the hairs.

Also, corticosteroid ointments can be absorbed through the skin and cause body-wide side effects that should be reported to the doctor and include blurred vision, eye pain, increased thirst or urge to urinate, dry mouth, weight gain, swelling of the face, muscle weakness, depression, anxiety or irritability.

Who should not use

Corticosteroid ointments should not be used by children under 1 year of age or by people who are allergic to corticosteroids such as betamethasone, hydrocortisone, clobetasol, desonide, dexamethasone or betamethasone, for example.

These ointments should also not be used in cases of:

  • Tuberculosis in the skin;
  • Fungal infection;
  • Herpes simplex;
  • Chickenpox;
  • Eardrum perforation;
  • Rosacea;
  • Acne vulgaris;
  • Skin wounds;
  • Itchy skin without inflammation;
  • Itchy anal or genital area;
  • Dermatitis in the mouth.

In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding women should only use corticosteroid ointments if indicated by their doctor, as there are no studies that prove they are safe to use in these situations.

Corticoid ointments should not be used on the eyes either, and an ophthalmologist should be consulted, who should recommend specific ointments for application to the eyes.

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