The following local adverse reactions are reported infrequently when topical corticosteroids are used as recommended. These reactions are listed in an approximately decreasing order of occurrence: burning, itching, irritation, dryness, folliculitis, hypertrichosis, acneiform eruptions, hypopigmentation, perioral dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, maceration of the skin, secondary infection, skin atrophy, striae, and miliaria. Systemic absorption of topical corticosteroids has produced reversible HPA axis suppression, manifestations of Cushing syndrome, hyperglycemia, and glucosuria in some patients. In rare instances, treatment (or withdrawal of treatment) of psoriasis with corticosteroids is thought to have exacerbated the disease or provoked the pustular form of the disease, so careful patient supervision is recommended.
There is little evidence as to what percentage of a topical corticosteroid dose is absorbed systemically. Studies investigating systemic effects do not measure how much of the corticosteroid is in the blood, but instead focus on measuring cortisol as a marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression. After a few weeks’ treatment with potent or very potent topical corticosteroids temporary HPA axis suppression does occur. However, this resolves upon cessation of the topical corticosteroid, without the need for dose tapering. 5, 19 HPA axis suppression is more marked when topical corticosteroids are applied under occlusion, . with wet wraps.