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Corticosteroids are a class of natural or synthetic hormones. Natural corticosteroids are produced by the adrenal gland. They include mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. The principal mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, which helps maintain blood pressure and the balance of water and salt in the body by helping the kidney retain sodium and excrete potassium. The principal glucocorticoid is cortisol, which

  • helps maintain blood pressure and cardiovascular function
  • helps slow the immune system's inflammatory response
  • helps balance the effects of insulin in breaking down sugar for energy
  • helps regulate the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • helps maintain proper arousal and sense of well-being

Synthetic corticosteroids are used to treat a variety of skin disorders. They are available in different strengths. Mild topical corticosteroids (e.g., Hydrocortisone 0.5%) can be bought without prescription. Higher potency corticosteroids require prescription, because they may have side effects such as thinning of the skin.

The following is a partial list of topical corticosteroids.

  • Hydrocortisone 0.5%
  • Hydrocortisone Acetate 0.5%
  • Betamethasone valerate 0.025%
  • Clobetasone butyrate 0.05%
  • Desoximetasone 0.05%
  • Hydrocortisone acetate 1.0%
  • Betamethasone dipropionate 0.05%
  • Betamethasone valerate 0.05%
  • Desoximetasone 0.25%
  • Diflucortolone valerate 0.1%
  • Fluocinonlone acetonide 0.25%
  • Mometasone furoate 0.1%
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide 0.1%
Very potent:
  • Clobetasol Propionate 0.05%
  • Halcinonide 0.1%