Topical corticosteroids are available in a wide range of different strengths, from Class 1 (very strong) to Class 7 (very weak). Stronger corticosteroids are generally more effective in reducing moderate to severe symptoms, such as thick, chronic plaques, but are also more likely to cause side effects 2 . Lower strength corticosteroids are generally better for milder symptoms and for very sensitive areas of the body (such as the face or groin areas) and stronger strengths are better for areas with thicker skin (such as the knees and elbows).
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.
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