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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Triamcinolone
Answer: Steroids do have the effects you mention systemically. But, it is dosage related. That is, the higher the dosage systemically(blood level for example) the more the problem. Since dermal application gets such low blood levels,(by not being absorbed systemically easily) the systemic effects are minimal. However, large area applications done repeatedly will have some effect. This is much, much lower than the dosage achieved by oral pills or even pulmonary inhalers. Most patients would not be expected to have systemic steroid effects from small dermal applications. So whether you will have side effects would depend on the area you are applying the steroid. If less than 8-10 square inches I wouldn't expect any systemic effects.
Triamcinolone [posted 8/6/98]
Answer: Steroids are strong anti-inflammatories. There really is no equal, although non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Motrin, Naprosyn, the like) can offer some decrease in inflammation. However, there is a price to pay. Long term, these drugs accelerate the aging process - this is basically what you read on the side effects. This is dose and duration dependent so that the higher the dose and the longer you take it are the biggest factors in developing side effects. Short bursts in isolated situations probably have minimal effect. Longer bursts for repeated treatments will start to show side effects.