Do you know what is a corticosteroid, how strong are they, and how to recognize them?

I’m sure many of us who had eczema before in our lifetime had been to a doctor who prescribed a cream or an ointment, with or without your knowledge that it was a topical steroid. Some came in its original packaging with all the needed labels while some doctors prescribed self compounded cream that may consist of topical steroid and antibiotics, filled in a small white container, with no labels.

Commonly known as steroids, these topical steroids’s correct name is corticosteroid and they are very different from the steroids that you’ve heard was injected into bodybuilders which are called anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids are either taken orally or by injection that influence the body’s hormonal system to produce extra testosterone. The goal of taking anabolic steroids is to increase muscle mass. Anabolic refers to this muscle-building capability.

Anabolic steroids should not be confused with corticosteroids, which are used routinely as anti-inflammatory medications to help treat illnesses in which inflammation is part of the disease process.

You may want to know the side effects of corticosteroids as normally doctors do not tell you about them.

  • Weight Gain (Steroids affect your metabolism and how your body deposits fat.)
  • Insomnia and broken sleep (Steroids may impair your ability to fall asleep, especially when they are applied in larger dosage.)
  • Mood changes (Steroids, especially in doses over 30 milligrams per day, can affect your mood. )
  • Fluid retention and elevated blood pressure (Because cortisone is involved in regulating the body’s balance of water, sodium, and other electrolytes, using these drugs can promote fluid retention and sometimes cause or worsen high blood pressure.)
  • Elevated blood sugar (Since cortisone is involved in maintaining normal levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, long-term use may lead to elevated blood sugar or even diabetes.)
  • Abnormal behavior of skin (skin loses its natural defense mechanism and it is more prone to infections as well as reduced ability to heal.)
  • Feel cold all the time (due to weak skin barrier)

If your doctor has prescribed you with topical steroids and you want to know how potent they are, you may refer to the chart below. You may use the strength as a gauge to determine the possibility of a Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW).

If you are worried about TSW, you may want to know the potency and the duration of the application period. While a concrete number is hard to obtain, it is safe to say that the longer the period of application and the more potent strength of the topical steroid leads to more frequency.

Potent – Brand NameCommon Name
Clobex Lotion/Spray/Shampoo, 0.05%Clobetasol propionate
Cordran Tape, 0.05%Flurandrenolide
Cormax Cream/Solution, 0.05%Clobetasol propionate
Diprolene Ointment, 0.05%Betamethasone dipropionate
Lexette Foam, 0.05%Halobetasol propionate
Olux E Foam, 0.05%Clobetasol propionate
Olux Foam, 0.05%Clobetasol propionate
Psorcon Ointment, 0.05%Diflorasone diacetate
Psorcon E Ointment, 0.05%Diflorasone diacetate
Temovate Cream/Ointment/Solution, 0.05%Clobetasol propionate
Topicort Topical Spray, 0.25%Desoximetasone
Ultravate Cream/Ointment, 0.05%Halobetasol propionate
Ultravate Lotion, 0.05%Halobetasol propionate
Wynzora Cream, 0.005%/0.064%Calcipotriene and Betamethasone dipropionate
Vanos Cream, 0.1%Fluocinonide
Potent to Superpotent – Brand NameCommon Name
Bryhali Lotion, 0.01%Halobetasol propionate
Doubrii Lotion, 0.01%/0.045%Halobetasol propionate/tazarotene
Potent – Brand NameCommon Name
Diprolene Cream AF, 0.05%Betamethasone dipropionate
Elocon Ointment, 0.1%Mometasone furoate
Florone Ointment, 0.05%Diflorasone diacetate
Halog Ointment/Cream, 0.1%Halcinonide
Lidex Cream/Gel/Ointment, 0.05%Fluocinonide
Psorcon Cream, 0.05%Diflorasone diacetate
Topicort Cream/Ointment, 0.25%Desoximetasone
Topicort Gel, 0.05%Desoximetasone
Upper Mid-Strength – Brand NameCommon Name
Cutivate Ointment, 0.005%Fluticasone propionate
Lidex-E Cream, 0.05%Fluocinonide
Luxiq Foam, 0.12%Betamethasone valerate
Mid-Strength – Brand NameCommon Name
Cordran Ointment, 0.05%Flurandrenolide
Elocon Cream, 0.1%Mometasone furoate
Kenalog Cream/Spray, 0.1%Triamcinolone acetonide
Synalar Ointment, 0.03%Fluocinolone acetonide
Topicort LP Cream, 0.05%Desoximetasone
Topicort LP Ointment, 0.05%Desoximetasone
Westcort Ointment, 0.2%Hydrocortisone valerate
Lower Mid-Strength – Brand NameCommon Name
Capex Shampoo, 0.01%Fluocinolone acetonide
Cordran Cream/Lotion/Tape, 0.05%Flurandrenolide
Cutivate Cream/Lotion, 0.05%Fluticasone propionate
DermAtop Cream, 0.1%Prednicarbate
DesOwen Lotion, 0.05%Desonide
Locoid Cream/Lotion/Ointment/Solution, 0.1%Hydrocortisone
Pandel Cream, 0.1%Hydrocortisone
Synalar Cream, 0.03%/0.01%Fluocinolone acetonide
Westcort Cream, 0.2%Hydrocortisone valerate
Mild – Brand NameCommon Name
Aclovate Cream/Ointment, 0.05%Alclometasone dipropionate
Derma-Smoothe/FS Oil, 0.01%Fluocinolone acetonide
Desonate Gel, 0.05%Desonide
Synalar Cream/Solution, 0.01%Fluocinolone acetonide
Verdeso Foam, 0.05%Desonide
Least Potent – Brand NameCommon Name
Cetacort Lotion, 0.5%/1%Hydrocortisone
Cortaid Cream/Spray/OintmentHydrocortisone
Hytone Cream/Lotion, 1%/2.5%Hydrocortisone
Micort-HC Cream, 2%/2.5%Hydrocortisone
Nutracort Lotion, 1%/2.5%Hydrocortisone
Synacort Cream, 1%/2.5%Hydrocortisone

Steroids and TSW is not an easy subject to educate but we will write a blog of this in the near future, so do look out for it by signing up for our newsletter.