There is no evidence of safe and effective use of topical corticosteroids in pregnant mothers. Therefore, they should be used only if clearly needed. Long term use and large applications of topical corticosteroids may cause birth defects in the unborn. It is not known whether topical corticosteroids enter breast milk. Therefore, caution must be exercised before using it in nursing mothers. Topical corticosteroids should not be applied to the breasts of nursing mothers unless the mothers instructed to do so by the physician.
Topical steroids are available as creams, lotions, gels and ointments; selection of an appropriate product can also provide good moisturization of the skin. The wide spectrum of potencies and bases allows these mediations to be used both effectively and safely while under the care of an experienced physician.
During flares, over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include a topical corticosteroid (such as clobetasone butyrate and hydrocortisone) are helpful to control inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The intensive use of emollient-based products can reduce the need for topical steroids.
Topical corticosteroids are the most commonly prescribed agents in the treatment of dermatologic conditions. They are used primarily as monotherapy or in combination with other agents for enhanced efficacy. Several stronger preparations are now available since their first introduction. They are also available in various vehicles altering the potency and giving the option of tailoring them for use based on specific anatomic locations, area of involvement, age of the patient, and most importantly, severity of the condition. Several local and systemic side effects have been associated with their inadvertent use. Allergic contact dermatitis to most of the preparations has also been noticed. Judicious use with reinforced patient education lowers such risk for side effects, and can be of great use in treating dermatologic conditions.