The widespread misuse of skin creams and lotions that contain steroids in India is harmful and out of control, warns a Gujarat-based dermatologist. Corticosteroids, also known as steroids, are anti-inflammatory medicines used for a range of conditions. However, these can lead to substantial and permanent damage, especially on thin skin, such as on the face and groin.
Skin creams, lotions are ‘harmful’
Side effects include pigmentation and breakdown of the skin, small and widened blood vessels on the skin, as well as bacterial and fungal infections. Its misuse can lead to resistance of infections that can make these difficult to diagnose and treat.
A study of 2,926 dermatology patients in 2013 showed that 433 (14.8 percent) were using topical steroids and 392 (90.5 percent) had harmful effects, Shyam B Verma, a consultant dermatologist based in Gujarat said.
“The public, as well as doctors of all specialties, need to be informed and educated about safe use of topical corticosteroids,” he said.
As required by law in India, strong steroids can be sold only with a registered medical practitioner’s prescription. However, topical steroids are exempt and can be purchased over the counter, which needs urgent revision, according to Verma.