Published: 2019-08-28

Topical corticosteroid misuse: observational study to evaluate pattern of abuse and adverse drug reactions

Bhawna Saini, Yatendar Chahar, Yogesh Kumar Goyal, Mohit Kumar, Arkapal Bandyopadhyay


Background: Topical corticosteroids (TC) have a reputation as anti-acne, anti-blemish effects and popularly used as fairness creams. In India, there has been a rise in misuse of TC in last10 years. The present study was conducted to analyse the magnitude of adverse effects of topical corticosteroids abuse in dermatology outpatient department of a tertiary care hospital.

Methods: A retrospective observational study was conducted on patients after categorizing them as a TC misuser by dermatologists. The socio-demographic data, chief complaints, details of drugs misuse and adverse drug reaction outcome was collected.

Results: A total of 1240 patients was screened, out of which 80 patients misused TC without dermatologist prescription for their skin disease. TC was mainly misused by teenagers (43.8%). Misuse of topical corticosteroids was more common among females (76.3%). Betamethasone valerate (72.5%) was most common TC misused. Most common source of advice of TC misuse was friends (37.5%). Most common purpose of TC misuse was acne (55%) followed by cosmetic purposes (21.3%). The most common morphological varieties of adverse drug reactions were burning and itching sensation (53%) followed by increase severity of acne (44%).

Conclusions: TC misuse was more common in teenage females. Most common adverse effect reported is burning and itch sensation followed by increase severity of acne. The study data indicates a significance of problem and requirement of urgent measures to control TC misuse.


Topical corticosteroids, Acne, Adverse drug reactions, Self medication

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