Steroids are often used for the treatment of various discomforts. The common uses include treatment of autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, allergic reactions like bronchitis, asthma, etc. as well as skin problems including psoriasis and dermatitis. Steroids can be taken in multiple formats; they are available as shots (injectable directly onto your muscles), solution and creams / lotion. Both clobetasol as well as betamethasone belong to the steroid genre of drugs. However, there are a few differences between these two drugs. Before starting to use any of them, it is a wise thing to know more about them in greater detail.

Skin irritation is a common condition among all age groups. Itchiness and other allergies can be triggered due to multiple reasons – for instance, insect bites, allergic foods, adverse climatic conditions etc. There are conditions wherein your skin cells multiply at a faster rate; this condition can lead to a skin problem known as psoriasis. You may witness scaly skin with bumps or inflammation with a discoloured tone of skin. Steroids such as betamethasone, clobetasol, etc. are prescribed to treat many of these problems.

What is betamethasone?

This is a corticosteroid drug which is used for the treatment of eczema (flaky skin coupled with itchiness), reddening of skin, psoriasis, etc. For treating skin problems, this steroid is used as a topical lotion or a cream. For problems in your scalp, a foamy form or a shampoo is used. It is often used with other active ingredients to enhance its therapeutic properties. For example, along with salicylic acid, it is used in the treatment of psoriasis; also, it is blended with clotrimazole to stop skin disorders caused mainly by microbial infections.

Your treating doctor may not however prescribe the use of betamethasone for a longer time interval. If used over the longer term, you may witness a few adverse side effects. These may include mood shifts (depression, nervousness, fidgeting or euphoric spells), increase in blood pressure level (hypertension), excessive growth of hair, reduced efficiency of the adrenal gland, etc. You are advised not to use it on softer parts or folds / creases of skin. So, ensure that the active ingredients of this drug do not come in direct contact with facial organs, armpits or folds of your fingers.

One of the earlier uses of betamethasone is to make preterm babies to breath normally. However, as the drug is found to cross the walls of the placenta, this use stands discontinued. Also, use of this steroid can trigger increase in blood sugar levels as well as a few blood-related disorders (such as leucocytosis) in your newly born infant. Owing to the above risks, it is considered a good practice to talk to your dermatologist or a qualified clinical practitioner prior to using this drug.

What is clobetasol?

As mentioned, many types of skin creams / lotion are available to treat topical conditions. Of such meds, clobetasol is a widely used drug. Like betamethasone, this drug is also categorised under a family of meds known as corticosteroids. But, this form of steroid is highly powerful – unlike several other steroid drugs. Hence, its use is largely restricted for external application; especially, to be used over the skin. Ensure that this drug along with its active ingredients does not come in direct touch with very sensitive skin – such as your groin or armpits. If you have used it on your eyes, you are advised to wash your eyes immediately. Upon experiencing irritation or redness of eyes, it is highly recommended to seek medical attention on an emergency basis. Those who did not care to seek clinical support may develop severe eye infections such as glaucoma or an abrupt increase in intraocular pressure levels.

Clobetasol needs to be applied strictly as per the guidance of your treating physician. It is considered a good practice to use this skin ointment / cream as a very thin layer or film. Soon after such application, it is highly recommended to rub it in a gentle fashion. Your skin doctor (dermatologist) may advise regular use of this cream for better outcomes. In some cases, you may be advised to use it twice or three times every day. Never cover the affected skin region with bandages or wraps; covering your skin may only worsen the underlying medical condition.

 

Side effects as well as precautions associated with the use of betamethasone or clobetasol

Both of these topical ointments are known to cause some adverse side effects. Most commonly witnessed side effects are dryness of skin, itchiness, reddening of the affected area, burning sensation, etc. However, many of these side effects may disappear on their own – especially, after the first few days of use. This is because of your body’s ability to get used to the active ingredients of these steroids. But, if there is no relief from these adverse side effects, you need to quickly consult with your dermatologist or a qualified medical practitioner.

In some rare instances, application of one of these skin meds can cause very acute discomforts. These include rashes on skin, inflammation of the area where you applied the ointment, formation of bumps or scaling of skin. Upon noticing these adverse side effects, it is strongly recommended to seek medical help as fast as you possibly can. Those living in the US can call 911 or the helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA). Those who live in any of the Canadian provinces may call Health Canada or rush to a poison control center located closer to where you live.

Above all, regardless of the type of skin med used – you need to wash your fingers, palms and arms after using the drug. Not washing these sensitive parts (i.e., after use) can lead to inflammation or numbing of fingers; especially, at the folds / in between your fingers. Lastly, never use such meds in excess of 45 grams (g) within a week. Overuse of such meds is likely to trigger a toxic condition. For more inputs about how to use either betamethasone or clobetasol, it is a good practice to consult with your medical team or pharmacist.

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