Corticosteroids are synthetic hormones genetically designed to suppress the immune system. When applied topically to an area of the skin displaying a rash, redness or inflammation, they work by suppressing the normal immune system response. Normally when the body senses an attack on the skin due to an insect bite, bacteria or germs, the skin body will react by rushing blood to the area, hence the redden rash like appearance. Within the blood are stored the antibodies to protect and shield the internal organs of the skin. By suppressing the triggered immune system response with the topical corticosteroid application one can effectively ease the rash or itching that may accompany both the initial attack on the skin as well as any irritating effects of the immune system response to the attack.
Corticosteroids are not intended for long-term use and one should limit the application time to 10 to 14 days. Long-term use of steroids can actually create additional symptoms that are similar to the symptoms that one started using the steroids to treat.
When the steroid application is applied to the facial area, the skin being thinner on the face tends to react more strongly than other parts of the skin. The ensuing rash from prolonged steroid use can resemble moderate to severe stage rosacea.