Topical steroids for atopic eczema: not too much, not too little

author/source: DrB

Too much of anything can be harmful!


Being creatures of habit is usually useful, but nature can get the better of us.

Anything that is done on a regular basis can become a habit. A habit is a behaviour that we lose conscious control over. Sometimes then it can become excessive. Too much of anything can cause problems. Consider the basics. Too much oxygen can be a bad thing. The same goes for water.
Habitual over-breathing, or hyperventilation, a complication of anxiety states, can lead to faints and fits. Water, another essential for life, needs to be taken in moderation - not too little, not too much. Too little, and we can dehydrate. Too much, and we can get water intoxication

Each of the three levels (see below) of The Combined Approach for treating chronic atopic eczema involve getting things right to achieve success. At level 1, using moisturisers appropriately, neither too little, nor to excess, is important. Habitual scratching, the cause of lichenification, or thickening of the skin, in chronic eczema, needs tackling with habit reversal at Level 3.


At Level 2, getting it right with the use of topical steroids is also important for success with The Combined Approach. Using them too much can certainly cause problems. But so can using them too little. The risk of steroid side effects need not become steroid phobia, when they are avoided altogether. On the other hand, over-use, or abuse, of topical steroids can lead not only to skin thinning and easy bruising, but also it seems, perhaps after prolonged, inappropriate use, to a troublesome state called Topical Steroid Addiction, also known as Red Skin Syndrome or Steroid-Induced Eczema.

Following The Combined Approach for atopic eczema allows topical steroids to be used without the complications of either under-use or over-use.Topical steroids need to be used under medical supervision, at the correct strength and for the right length of time. When used in this way, topical steroids are both safe, and very effective.