Corticosteroids, including prednisone, are a class of powerful drugs that reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. They are prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus, as well as multiple sclerosis, some types of cancer, asthma and skin rashes – including those caused by poison ivy. They can be prescribed short-term – until a rash clears up or until another drug can take effect, for example – or they may be used long-term. Corticosteroids come in skin creams, injections and inhaled forms; however, this study examined only people who took them orally.
Topical steroids are available as creams, lotions, gels and ointments; selection of an appropriate product can also provide good moisturization of the skin. The wide spectrum of potencies and bases allows these mediations to be used both effectively and safely while under the care of an experienced physician.
During flares, over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include a topical corticosteroid (such as clobetasone butyrate and hydrocortisone) are helpful to control inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The intensive use of emollient-based products can reduce the need for topical steroids.