Topical corticosteroid potency

Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile . [43] The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception . [44] In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone. [45] The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field. [46] The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.

Topical steroids have been both extensively used and found to be very effective for the treatment of eczema. Concerns about side effects both on the skin and systemically has increased acceptance of the new steroid free alternative. Worries about long term use of a cortisone cream making the skin less responsive to treatment is a potential risk and is occasionally a concern. This may not occur with the topical immunomodulators but longer term studies will be needed to confirm this.

The new topical immunomodulators (TIMS) provide a significant new choice in the treatment of atopic eczema. They are used as a steroid-sparing medications. There is a discussion whether the immunomodulators should be used alone as monotherapy. Good evidence is available to show that using a potent topical cortisone twice a week only will reduce and may prevent eczema flares. If this was combined with intermittent use the immunomodulators this might further reduce flares. However some TIMs may reduce flares on their own.

For locations such as the face, folds and anterior upper chest the topical immunomodulators seem to be effective, well tolerated and free of significant side effects other than initial and minimal burning.

The following charts simplify some of the anti-inflammatory options:

Topical corticosteroid potency

topical corticosteroid potency


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