DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Corticosteroid Side Effects

Interview with Dr. Dennis Lee, and Dr. William C. Shiel Jr.

Dr. Lee: We have several viewer questions regarding side effects of corticosteroids. Let me just introduce the topic by saying that corticosteroids are potent medications that have been used in medicine to treat many conditions that involve inflammation. For instance, they have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and other arthritis that is caused by inflammation in the joints. They are also used to treat liver inflammation (hepatitis), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's colitis (which involve inflammation of the inner lining of the intestines). Corticosteroids are used by pulmonologists to treat asthma. So, they are very important medications. However, they have serious potential side effects. Some of them involve thinning of the bones, avascular necrosis of bones, thinning of the skin and also swelling of the face, among many other possible side effects.

Here is a question for Dr. Shiel; one viewer wants to know whether long-term steroids can cause thinning of the skin.

Dr. Shiel: Yes, Dr. Lee without question long-term use of cortisone-related medications such as prednisone or prednisolone is commonly associated with skin thinning.