Top 10 Side Effects from Topical Steroids

by: Suhein Beck
Feb 3, 2016

TOP 10 SIDE EFFECTS from TOPICAL STEROIDS:
 

  1. Skin membrane thins and becomes more prone to UVA/B damage long term.
  2. Skin membrane thickens and becomes more like alligator skin with darkening aka lichenification. 
  3. Scars, stretch marks and skin darkening and then white out spots like Vitiligo are also common. 
  4. HPA Axis disruption hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal gland fatigue causing adrenal fatigue syndrome symptoms
  5. Increased risk of Glaucoma by increasing interocular (eye) pressure and possibly cataracts
  6. Infants and young children have a higher ratio of body surface area compared to their weight, so they are more susceptible to corticosteroid absorption. If a child is given corticosteroids, in large doses or over a long term, prolonged adrenal suppression can be associated with growth suppression
  7. A weakened immune response system – causing higher risk of infections, cancers, and other auto-immune diseases.
  8. Steroid Addiction
  9. Cushings Syndrome/Disease (See below)
  10. Addison’s Disease (See below)

 
Here are some things to consider more seriously:
It only takes 2 weeks of using a Topical Steroid on approx 20% of body to cause what is known as ADRENAL FATIGUE whereby the Adrenal Glands responsible for creating our natural hormone equivalent, Cortisol for the body begin to SLOW DOWN and NOT CREATE the hormone.  Since it is being introduced to the body through the skin, slows down the Adrenals, our body’s natural pharmacy.
 
The Adrenals slowing down triggers another effect – increasing the THYROID to work harder creating a confused imbalance between the two.  So this becomes the see-saw effect which disrupts the entire communication of the endocrine system. Each gland relies on the other to gauge how much it has to produce and communicate to the others what’s going on. The thyroid has to report back to the pituitary and thalamus and hypothalamus. 
 
This “confusion” in communication effects the entire immune system as well as the ability of body to produce growth hormones, balancing weight metabolism, body temperature control, liver production of glucose and therefore insulin, which can trigger Type 2 Diabetes, and some other lovely wonders such as unusually accelerated cataracts at a young age from the atopic dermatitis – but also Glaucoma, also at young age from using Topical Steroids on / around the face! 
 
If at some point, the Topical Steroids are no longer used after the body had adjusted itself to getting them “imported” for free, then the body goes into its own reactive shock and rebellion. It wants more, but doesn’t want to work for it. It’s kind of like your organs are on union wages and but get paid even when they go on strike for the most part!  So they fight back even more powerful signals to you to keep getting it from outside and this time make it stronger. And use it more to other areas and keep it coming. 

This is also referred to as the Steroid Rebound Phenomena.  It can be very tricky. So work WITH your doctor and let them know you are concerned about these side effects and want a strategy to minimize your risk!

Other Adrenal Suppression conditions similarly are:
 
Cushings Syndrome/Disease also known as “HYPERCORTISOLISM” with symptoms of:

  • Weight Gain – especially around midsection , upper back and face causing “moon face” and “buffalo hump” (similar to sports-type steroid abuse)
  • Pink or Purple stretch marks 
  • Thinning, fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Acne
  • In Women – thicker and more visible body and facial hair, Irregular periods
  • In Men – decreased libido, decreases fertility, erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, anxiety
  • Cognitive difficulties, foggy brain
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Headaches
  • Bone Loss        

 
 
Addison’s  Disease also caused by extensive corticosteroid use and body stresses:  

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness, fever, anxiety
  • Hyper pigmentation of skin

Note from Author,
I recommend working with your medical practitioner in a more knowledgable manner to achieve better results with minimal side effects and risk. Talk about your concerns in a more thorough, comprehensive discussion about all the benefits and risks associated with both topical and systemic steroids. 

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