One of the most useful agents introduced for topical dermatological therapy in the past 20 years has been hydrocortisone (Cortef, Cortril, Hycortole, Hydrocortone) and some of its derivatives. There are currently well over 50 marketed topical preparations which contain one of these adrenal steroids. It would be a fair guess that 10 million containers of steroids were dispensed last year for the topical treatment of skin diseases, not to mention countless pills, solutions, and suspensions of steroids for oral, intramuscular, intravenous, and intracutaneous administration.
The vast majority of patients with skin diseases who receive steroids use the steroids in topical preparations. The topical use of steroids has been of great advantage. Used in this way, there are rarely any systemic side-effects, and the patient requires far less supervision than when the steroids are given orally.
As with any other disease for which steroids are used, skin diseases are controlled but