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Use of Topical Corticosteroids in Eczema Management

Once Albert Camus, well-known French novelist and the winner of Nobel Prize for Literature, said “Style, like sheer silk too often hides eczema”. It is hard to say weather he meant “eczema” literally, or perhaps, he had some psychological or moral features of some individuals on mind, which are sometimes masked under stylish clothing and behavior; but speaking about eczema as a health disorder, it is absolutely clear that it is not easy to hide the symptoms of this skin problem, such as red, thickened, cracked or scaly skin patches and severe itching. Anyway, the truth is that there is no need to hide eczema – this disorder can and should be treated with the help of medications, specifically designed for this job.

Topical corticosteroids are now widely used as the first-line treatments against the symptoms of eczema, which is also known as atopic dermatitis. Eczma belongs to the disorders of the allergic origin; however, it is quite difficult to keep it under control with common anti-allergic means such as eliminating an allergen or using allergy shots. Consequently, other medicinal options should be used.

Topical corticosteroids can effectively relieve skin inflammation, sooth the damaged areas and reduce itching. That is why topical corticosteroids are perhaps the best choices to consider at the beginning of the treatment course. These medications are called “topical” because they are manufactured in the form of cream, lotion or ointment, which means a patient uses it externally by applying to the surface of the skin instead of swallowing some pills or getting injections. (By the way, there are also corticosteroids in the form of pills for oral administration, but they are usually indicated for very severe cases of eczema).

Topical corticosteroids are available in great variety on the market – some of them are even available over the counter, but more effective medications still require a prescription. The examples of such high-potency topical corticosteroids, helpful against eczema, are Vanos from Medicis Company (approved by the FDA in 2005) and Elocon from Schering-Plough (approved in 1987).

How to use topical corticosteroids against Eczema?

1)      Read the label of the medication carefully, as well as your doctors' recommendations, in order to find out how often you should use the cream and in what amount;

2)      Wash your hands before applying Elocon or Vanos;

3)      Take a small amount of cream and apply it to the affected area on the skin (a thin film of the medication should cover the damaged skin area). Do not use the cream on the larger area than affected by eczema;

4)      Rub the cream gently into the skin;

5)      Wash your hands after applying the medication (if only you did not apply it to treat eczema flare-ups on hands);

6)      Do not cover the treated area with any bandage or occlusive clothing – let the medication absorb;

7)      Repeat the procedure as often as you were told by your doctor.

What is necessary to know about Elocon?

-        Elocon contains mometasone furoate, which is the main working ingredient;

-        Elocon belongs to medium potency corticosteroids;

-        Elocon is usually applied once daily;

-        Elocon can be used even in children 2 years of age and older;

-        Elocon, as well as other corticosteroids, are not recommended for use by pregnant or breast-feeding women;

-        Do not use Elocon for more than 3 weeks;

-        Elocon may cause adverse reactions – burning, pruritus, skin atrophy, tingling/stinging, furunculosis, rosacea.

What is necessary to known about Vanos? 

-        Vanos contains fluocinonide as the main working substance;

-        Vanos is a super-high potency corticosteroid;

-        Vanos should not be used for treating children under 12 years old;

-        Vanos, as well as other corticosteroids, are not recommended for use by pregnant or breast-feeding women;

-        For treating eczema Vanos should be applied once daily (more frequent application was shown to be of no increased effect);

-        Do not use Vanos longer than 2 consecutive weeks;

-        Do not use more than 60 g of Vanos cream per week;

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-        Vanos may cause following side effects: headache, application site burning, nasopharyngitis and nasal congestion, and different skin reactions;

-        Below is the image, showing what improvements may be expected with Vanos:

So, that is the basic information on topical corticosteroids in general, and on Elocon and Vanos in particular. These highly-effective medications are proved to be able to relieve symptoms of eczema significantly, so, hopefully, now there will be no need to hide eczema any more...


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