Prescriptions written for topical steroids should include explicit instructions about where and how often to apply the preparation, and the body areas where use must be avoided. Pharmacists should ensure these directions are included on the dispensing label. Prescribers should bear in mind that patients may keep unused or leftover corticosteroid skin preparations for some time after they are prescribed and thus forget the original indication or instructions for use. The prescribing of unnecessarily large quantities should be avoided. Patients should be warned not to share their topical steroid preparation with other people as this may result in unsafe application to unsuitable areas such as the face, as well as the potentially inappropriate treatment of undiagnosed skin conditions.
Topical steroids are available as creams, lotions, gels and ointments; selection of an appropriate product can also provide good moisturization of the skin. The wide spectrum of potencies and bases allows these mediations to be used both effectively and safely while under the care of an experienced physician.
During flares, over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include a topical corticosteroid (such as clobetasone butyrate and hydrocortisone) are helpful to control inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The intensive use of emollient-based products can reduce the need for topical steroids.