Long-term continuous topical therapy should be avoided where possible, particularly in infants and children, as adrenal suppression, with or without clinical features of Cushing's syndrome, can occur even without occlusion. In this situation, topical steroids should be discontinued gradually under medical supervision because of the risk of adrenal insuffciency.
The face, more than other areas of the body, may exhibit atrophic changes after prolonged treatment with potent topical corticosteroids. This must be borne in mind when treating such conditions as psoriasis, discoid lupus erythematosus and severe eczema. If applied to the eyelids, care is needed to ensure that the preparation does not enter the eye, as glaucoma might result.
If used in childhood, or on the face, courses should be limited to five days and occlusion should not be used.
Topical corticosteroids may be hazardous in psoriasis for a number of reasons including rebound relapses, development of tolerance, risk of generalised pustular psoriasis and development of local or systemic toxicity due to impaired barrier function of the skin. If used in psoriasis careful patient supervision is important.
Appropriate antimicrobial therapy should be used whenever treating inflammatory lesions which have become infected. Any spread of infection requires withdrawal of topical corticosteroid therapy. Bacterial infection is encouraged by the warm, moist conditions induced by occlusive dressings, and so the skin should be cleansed before a fresh dressing is applied.
In rare instances, treatment of psoriasis with corticosteroids (or its withdrawal) is thought to have provoked the pustular form of the disease. Xorsone cream is usually well tolerated but if signs of hypersensitivity appear, application should stop immediately. Exacerbation of symptoms may occur.
There have been a few reports in the literature of the development of cataracts in patients who have been using corticosteroids for prolonged periods of time. Although it is not possible to rule out systemic corticosteroids as a known factor, prescribers should be aware of the possible role of corticosteroids in cataract development.