Long term use of topical corticosteroids can induce tachyphylaxis (tolerance to the vasoconstrictive action of topical corticosteroids). Adverse effects are uncommon when using mild to potent corticosteroids for less than three months, except when used on the face and neck, in intertriginous areas (skin folds), or under occlusion. However, very potent corticosteroids should not be used continuously for longer than three weeks. 2 If longer use of very potent corticosteroids is required, they should be gradually tapered to avoid rebound symptoms and then stopped for a period of at least one week after which treatment can be resumed. 2
Occlusive dressings may be used for the management of psoriasis or other recalcitrant conditions. Apply a thin film of ointment to the lesion, cover with a pliable nonporous film, and seal the edges. If needed, additional moisture may be provided by covering the lesion with a dampened clean cotton cloth before the nonporous film is applied or by briefly wetting the affected area with water immediately prior to applying the medication. The frequency of changing dressings is best determined on an individual basis. It may be convenient to apply triamcinolone acetonide ointment under an occlusive dressing in the evening and to remove the dressing in the morning (., 12-hour occlusion). When utilizing the 12-hour occlusion regimen, additional ointment should be applied, without occlusion, during the day. Reapplication is essential at each dressing change.
Seventeen trials comparing tacrolimus ointment with topical corticosteroids in both paediatric (n = 2328) and adult (n = 2849) patients were identified. No studies comparing tacrolimus ointment with class IV topical corticosteroids were identified. Tacrolimus % ointment was found to be of similar efficacy to class I/II and class III topical corticosteroids. In three individual trials (comparing tacrolimus % ointment to a topical corticosteroid), evaluation of the Physician's Global Evaluation of Clinical Response (PGECR) resulted in RRs of (95% CI -), (95% CI -) and (95% CI -), where values above one favour tacrolimus ointment. With the exception that tacrolimus ointment caused more skin burning than comparator treatments (tacrolimus % versus a class III topical corticosteroid, the RR was (95% CI -) in favour of the corticosteroid), no significant differences with regards to side-effects and withdrawals due to AEs were found. Quality of life data were reported in two studies. While one study reported greater improvements in tacrolimus-treated adult patients compared with topical steroids, the second reported greater improvements in paediatric patients treated with steroids compared with tacrolimus ointment.