Evaluation of the Atrophogenic Potential of Topical Corticosteroids in Pediatric Dermatology Patients


  • Dr. E. Hong, Dr. S. Smith, and Dr. G. Fischer contributed equally to this investigative report.

Address correspondence to Esther Hong, M.B.B.S., Dermatology Research Fellow, Dermatology Department Level 11C, Royal North Shore Hospital, St. Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia, or e-mail: ehon8261@med.usyd.edu.au


Abstract:  We conducted a cross-sectional observational study to determine the atrophogenic potential of TCS in children with dermatitis requiring long-term TCS suppression. Children who were able to achieve good disease control, with a maximum Eczema Area and Severity Index score of 1.0, using TCS were examined for adverse effects of treatment. Cutaneous atrophy was assessed using a validated dermoscopic technique. Cutaneous sites exposed to TCS were compared with nonexposed sites in all patients. There was no significant atrophy in 70 TCS-exposed and 22 TCS-naïve children. Mild grade 1 telangiectasia of the cubital fossa was observed in 3.3% of the test group and 3.1% of the control group (p > 0.99). We conclude that routine, appropriate, long-term use of TCS in children with dermatitis does not cause skin atrophy. These data do not support the widely held belief that routine use of TCS will “thin the skin.” Parents, pharmacists, and health practitioners should be confident about the safety of using this treatment.