What is eczema?

Eczema is a name used to describe a group of conditions where the skin becomes red, itchy and inflamed. 

Is eczema contagious?

Eczema is not contagious. You cannot catch eczema or spread it to others by touching them. 

What are steroids?

Steroids are naturally produced in our bodies and play many different functions in keeping us healthy.

They are also important in aiding normal growth and development.

Steroids are very effective at controlling inflammation. This benefit was a key reason for the development of synthetic topical corticosteroids, which have been proven as a very effective treatment in a range of skin conditions including eczema.

What are topical steroids?

Topical steroids are widely used and effective anti-inflammatory preparations used to control eczema/dermatitis and many other skin conditions. They are available in creams and ointments.

Topical steroids are sometimes combined with other active ingredients, including antibacterial agents, antifungal agents and calcipotriol.

Topical steroids are also called topical corticosteroids, glucocorticosteroids, and cortisones.

Do topical steroids affect growth and development?

Steroid creams and ointments are unlikely to affect growth and development when used as directed by your healthcare professional.

Caution should always be used with very young children and on large areas and / or for extended periods of time.

Advantan is a topical steroid treatment that has an excellent safety profile – making it suitable for use on delicate skin (such as on the face) and for children and babies as young as 4 months. 

Will topical steroids make me grow out of my eczema more slowly?

There is no evidence that topical steroids – or indeed any other treatments for eczema – change the underlying natural course of the disease.

Are topical steroids needed if I use enough moisturiser?

Moisturisers are the first and most simple form of treatment for eczema. If used alone they may only treat the very mildest forms of eczema. Once the skin becomes red and inflamed, it will probably require a topical steroid to bring the eczema under control.

Should topical steroids always be applied in very small amounts?

Although you only need a thin layer of topical steroid, it is important to apply enough to cover affected areas. 


It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice. Or click here to download a pdf guide to applying topical steroids.

Should topical corticosteroids always be applied sparingly?

It is important that topical corticosteroids be applied to all areas affected by eczema, not just the worst areas. Do not apply a topical corticosteroid to unaffected areas.

The aim is to apply the topical corticosteroid until the eczema clears completely, rather than partially. Once the eczema is cleared, stop applying the topical corticosteroid and control the eczema by other measures (e.g. moisturisers, avoiding trigger factors).

Can topical corticosteroids be used on cracked, broken or weepy eczema skin?

Topical corticosteroids are available in a range of formulations (eg: cream, lotion, ointment) and your doctor can advise which of these are appropriate for cracked, broken or weepy eczema skin. By reducing inflammation and itch, topical corticosteroids help to break the itch-scratch cycle and allow the cracked and broken skin to heal.

Do topical corticosteroids cause thinning of the skin?

Topical corticosteroids are effective and safe when used appropriately and under adequate supervision. The fear that corticosteroid use leads to ‘skin thinning’ causes many parents to hold back on appropriate treatment which can jeopardise a positive outcome. However, remember that occlusive dressings (which cover up the area completely and prevent the air getting in), such as nappies may increase absorption and should be avoided if possible.