The National Eczema Association explains, “Side effects are rarely reported with low to mid-potency topical corticosteroids. According to the report, TCS withdrawal syndrome generally occurs after inappropriate, prolonged frequent use of high-potency TCS. Concern for this side effect should not prevent the appropriate management of patients with chronic inflammatory skin disease. As with all medications, steroids are associated with some risk. However, the potential benefits with use of topical steroids far outweigh the risks of side effects, including steroid withdrawal syndrome, when used appropriately.”
It is important to use the correct amount of topical steroid for your eczema, as instructed by your healthcare professional. Topical steroids should be applied with clean hands so that the skin just glistens. It can sometimes be difficult to judge how much steroid to use and there are guidelines on the amount required to cover body areas that are affected by eczema. These are based on the Finger Tip Unit (FTU), and explained in detail in our fact sheet which you can download as a pdf from the related documents to the right of this page.
You can buy some topical corticosteroids "over-the-counter" without a prescription. For example, for dermatitis, you can buy the steroid cream called hydrocortisone 1% from your pharmacy. Do not apply this to your face unless your doctor has told you to do so. This is because it may trigger a skin condition affecting the face ( acne or rosacea. ) Long-term use may also damage the skin. On your face this would be more noticeable than the rest of your body. So usually only weak steroids are used on the face. Those which are suitable are prescription-only.