Glucocorticoids in Treatment of Eczema

While there is no magic Band-aid cure for eczema, one treatment that can be used for eczema are glucocorticoids (GCs).

Eczema is a condition that affects how the immune system responds when an allergic reaction occurs in the body. The immune system works to protect the skin from becoming inflamed and irritated during a flare-up of eczema.

Glucocorticoids are steroids that are designed to reduce the inflammation in the body. Synthetic GCs such as prednisone and hydrocortisone are highly strong and effective in reducing inflammation.

Children and young adults that have had eczema in the early stages of life are often plagued with other conditions such as allergies and asthma. Eczema that is associated with allergies that come from pollutants that are in the air or throughout the home and other locations, are referred to as environmental allergies.

Sometimes, food allergies can cause eczema to flare-up frequently.  Most common food allergies are nuts, dairy, and fruits.

Side Effects

  • Increased sugar level in the body
  • Easily affected by infections
  • Increase in body weight
  • Mood instability
  • Menstrual irregularities in teenage girls and young women
  • Problems with urination
  • Swelling of face


GCs are dispensed as pills, inhaled medications, and topical creams. An over-the-counter topical cream such as hydrocortisone, can be used to reduce inflammation and itching of the skin.


  • Watch for signs of infection.
  • Inform medical professional about taking other medications or herbal remedies that could reduce the effectiveness of the GCs.


Topical creams are effective in reducing the swelling and itching of the skin and are available without a prescription. Sometimes, an antihistamine is recommended to help reduce the inflammation. Caution is used with antihistamines because of the drowsy effect it has on the patients.

It is recommended for children and teenagers to take antihistamines at bedtime when they do not have to worry about being alert. Young adults should avoid taking antihistamines when they are driving or drinking alcohol because it can increase the level of drowsiness.  

Inhaled medications such as triamcinolone and beclometasone are effective in treating nasal allergies, as they reduce the inflammatory process in the respiratory tract.

Taken by pill form, GC's are effective in treating the swelling, itching, and redness of skin that is associated with eczema.


Long-term use of GCs can cause problems that affect the immune system as well as the physical and psychological systems of the body. For instance, when the body is suppressed for a long period of time, it is unable to fight off any infection that can occur. Also, GCs can cause moodiness, increased appetite, and irritability.

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