Oral corticosteroids for atopic dermatitis


Generic Name Brand Name
hydrocortisone Cortef, Hydrocortone
methylprednisolone Medrol
prednisolone Delta-Cortef, Prelone

How It Works

Corticosteroids are similar to natural substances the body produces to help reduce inflammation and itching. For atopic dermatitis, corticosteroids reduce inflammation, itching, and thickening of the skin (lichenification).

Why It Is Used

Oral corticosteroids are generally not recommended for controlling atopic dermatitis. They are used only for severe cases of atopic dermatitis or when topical agents (creams and ointments) and antihistamines have not worked.

How Well It Works

Oral corticosteroids are often effective in reducing inflammation and itching. A high initial dose usually eliminates the rash quickly.

Side Effects

Side effects of oral corticosteroids include headache, indigestion, increased appetite, restlessness, and increased risk of infection.

Skin rash, blurred vision, increased urination, excessive thirst, and mood changes are side effects that should be reported to your health professional.

Side effects from long-term use can include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Corticosteroids are usually used in combination with preventive measures, such as moisturizing your skin and avoiding skin irritants.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Last Updated: May 5, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine

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