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Is Treating Eczema with Steroids Safe?
With eczema affecting so many different people, it is important to treat it in a myriad of different ways. Since everyone’s body is their own, there is no single approach that works for everyone. One treatment that has been developed and used widely is the application of topical steroids.

Why Steroids Help

The most common steroids used in the treatment of eczema are a class of compounds called corticosteroids. These hormones are produced naturally in the body in the adrenal cortex and take part in several physiological reactions like stress response, protein catabolism, and electrolyte levels in the blood. But specific to eczema, corticosteroids are important for the proper function of immune responses and regulating inflammation. Many of those who suffer from eczema are treated with topical doses of different synthesized corticosteroids. Doctors and patients agree that steroid creams have the power to treat the problem effectively but are they really the right tool for the job?

Side Effects

While Corticosteroids may be effective at treating the eczema, using them definitely comes with a cost. Below we have listed some of the adverse health effects experts have associated with the use of topical steroid creams.

Liver Damage
Like almost all steroids, corticosteroids could be hell on your liver. Steroids often cause strain and damage. If you are taking some variety of corticosteroid, it may be important to take it conjunction with a supplement that supports liver health and function. One supplement ingredient worth considering would be milk thistle since this is what many bodybuilders use to protect themselves from liver damage caused by steroids. However, it may be more cost effective to try an all-natural eczema treatment that doesn’t require buying supplemental products to make it safe.

Birth Defects
One study at the University of Washington’s Department of Pediatrics showed that corticosteroids might have some teratogenic effects. These effects may seem small but they could be quite significant. The study claimed that corticosteroids could cause a multiple birth defects for every 1,000 pregnant women treated with them. This may be just around 1 percent, but we still think those odds are a little too high.

One of the scariest side effects we researched was that using strong topical steroids could increase risk of Lymphoma. In the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, a study back in 2007 that showed that there was a significant association between patients who had been treated with topical corticosteroids, in low and high concentrations, and patients who developed lymphoma later down the line. Though only 294 cases of lymphoma occurred out of the 293,253 patients, the added risk is still scary nonetheless.

Eye Damage
One study conducted by the Retinal Research Department at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City, showed that corticosteroid use may be connected with central serous chorioretinopathy or CSC. This condition is characterized by the leaking of fluid under the retina that can begin to pool and collect under the central macula. This leads to distorted vision, blurry spots, and decreased visual acuity even after the fluid has drained.

Final Thoughts

With prolonged use of steroids causing harm, it may be necessary to use these topical treatments in short bursts. One study we saw published in the British Medical Journal showed that short term use of a strong topical steroid was just as effective as prolonged administrations of milder steroids for treating eczema.

In conclusion, steroids have their place when it comes to treating eczema, but that role should be limited. If you rely too heavily on them, you can experience unwanted side effects that could be worse than the initial problem you set out to treat.

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