Six-month controlled study of effect of desoximetasone and betamethasone 17-valerate on the pituitary-adrenal axis


Reprint requests to: Division of Dermatology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, 10666 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, U.S.A.


Twenty-two patients were treated with desoximetasone emollient cream 0.25% twice daily without occlusion for 6 months. Patients applied the medication to approximately one-third of their body over psoriatic lesions. Corticosteroid plasma cortisol values decreased to below normal limits in nine patients before the 6-month study was terminated. In four of these the plasma cortisol spontaneously returned to normal despite therapy; in four other patients, however, the plasma cortisol was still suppressed at the end of 5 months of continual therapy but returned to normal within 7 days of discontinuation of the medication. In one patient, lost to further follow-up at 51/2 months of therapy, the trend at the fourth month was an increase in plasma cortisol to within one unit of normal range. Betamethasone 17-valerate 0.1% cream applied twice daily did not suppress plasma cortisol in twenty-three patients similarly tested. The clinical response to desoximetasone emollient cream was significantly better than to betamethasone valerate cream. This study closely approximates the way in which many patients with steroid-responsive dermatoses use potent topical steroids, namely over a long time period and without occlusion.