Topical corticosteroids (or steroids) are used to treat a host of skin disorders including patch/plaque stage CTCL. Corticosteroids influence our immune system and have anti-inflammatory effects. In limited disease distribution, topical steroids can produce and sustain clinical clearing of lesions for extended periods of time. Itching is often well controlled with these agents. Topical steroids are ranked according to their potency classification. There are 7 classes of topical steroids with Class I agents designated as the strongest and Class VII the weakest. Topical steroids are formulated in a variety of vehicles including creams, ointments, lotions solutions and gels. On occasion, two topical steroid agents of varying potency are combined into the treatment plan. In this situation, the patient rotates applications between strong and weak topical steroids for a designated period of time. Local skin side effects may be reduced by adherence to this regimen. Some possible local side effects include thinning of the skin, easy bruising, dilated blood vessels and acne like rashes.
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