Steroids Abuse in Skin

Steroids, also called corticosteroids, are a type of anti-inflammatory drug whose molecular composition is designed to reduce skin inflammation and irritation. However, long-term excessive use of steroids is associated with adverse side effects such as acneiform eruptions, pigmentation disorders, cutaneous atrophy, perioral dermatitis, and many more.

The skin is the body’s most sensitive organ, and in the modern day, steroids are being continually and widely misused by patients on their faces for various reasons. Exposing the skin barrier to such continuous usage without dermatological supervision is the real problem today. The Indian society’s unhealthy obsession with having a fair complexion has made people extremely self-conscious, which has regulated a wave of negative emotions in them. People belonging to the younger age group and females are the soft targets, and they are more susceptible to the systemic effects of powerful topical corticosteroids, which makes abuse of topical corticosteroids more popular in their category. Since they are more susceptible to its systemic effects, the spread of fungal infections caused by misuse has become a serious problem.

Topical corticosteroids (steroids) can be applied directly to the skin. The misuse of topical steroids as a cream for any skin problem is very common among people. In India itself, the unchecked use of steroid-based creams, and particularly the number of people using fairness creams, is significantly high. The market is flooded with numerous products, and the easy availability of these steroids for the skin not only leads to detrimental effects on the skin by causing skin-related complications but also makes the skin more susceptible to opportunistic infections. In addition, the use of over-the-counter fairness creams containing fragrance allergens leads to clogged pores, causing severe acne breakouts.

Since the facial skin is thinner than the skin of most other parts of the body, unsafe application without proper knowledge to sensitive areas such as the face leads to adverse effects. The symptoms worsen when improper treatment of undiagnosed skin conditions is continued for an extended period of time. 

The unhealthy and irrational beauty standards of the modern society have undoubtedly created a lot of pressure, making people suffer from body dysmorphia. The fear of being judged and the constant struggle to cope with everyday regular life make it difficult for people to appreciate themselves, which makes them the ultimate victims of steroid abuse. Ultimately, steroids are then misapplied for a variety of indications such as acne, pigmentation, fungal infection, pruritus, and as a cosmetic or skin cream for any type of rash.

Steroid abuse is a serious problem that needs to be addressed to save oneself from steroid dependency. Moreover, it is not limited to the facial region and spreads all over to the rest of the body, which raises a serious concern. It can lead to thinning of the skin and make blood vessels more prominently visible and increase sensitivity to light. Studies also indicate an alarming rise in the misuse of topical steroids in India, which forces one to become psychologically and physically dependent.

 Overuse of steroids on the skin also leads to increased redness, white patches, burning sensations, visible veins, hair growth and many other conditions.

The field of dermatology is continuously evolving, and the use of topical corticosteroid molecules of varying potencies in a judicious manner by a trained practitioner would provide effective results. However, long-term abuse of steroids impacts the overall quality of life and disrupts the skin barrier, resulting in a condition known as “topical steroid-dependent acne.”

It is therefore important to sensitize people about the fact that although steroids have long been used to treat skin diseases, they are not a cure. Most of the time, people become victims of and vulnerable to the risks posed by these products due to a lack of awareness. Often times, such products are recommended by pharmacists, which leads to unregulated use and complications.

Although it has become an indispensable tool for skin specialists, the indiscriminate over-the-counter sale of steroids is one of the major issues that needs to be controlled, as it also results in infection resistance, making it challenging to diagnose and treat. In addition, unregulated use also has additional side effects, including an increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections. On that account, coordinated action is required to combat steroid abuse caused mainly by ignorance and drug company profit motives in order to ensure a healthy society.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *