Various kinds of products have been used for centuries by men and women alike for enhancing their beauty. Traditionally local herbs were used for this purpose. With advancement of technology, many chemical preparations have also been manufactured for cosmetic use. These include many kinds of ointments, lotions and powders. They are fine to use so far as they do not cause any harm in the long run.
One should know the contents of the product he or she is using and whether it is safe to use or not. I visited a local market one day and saw the various kinds of cosmetic products being sold.
It was surprising to see many creams and lotions containing synthetic steroids there, which are supposed to be used for medical conditions solelely on the advice of a doctor.
Corticosteroids are produced naturally in the body by the adrenal medulla and have strong anti – inflammatory effect.
Steroids are prescribed by doctors for local application in cases of eczema or allergic skin conditions because of the anti – inflammatory properties. It may be a cream or lotion containing hydrocortisone or betamethasone or fluticasone. But when used for a long period adverse effects are invariably produced.
The earliest side effect developing after use of a steroid cream is loosening of the skin. This will cause early and more severe wrinkling. Atrophy and thinning of the skin also occurs due to which the minute blood vessels beneath the skin become dilated and, “visible”, which does not look so good cosmetically.
There is depigmentation of the skin more so in dark colored skins. Mind you, this, “fairness”, is not healthy but heralding a permanent damage to skin and making it more prone to skin cancers.
In people who apply any steroid regularly, the skin becomes more susceptible to infections. There is also easy bruising. Acne may develop or the pre existing ones may aggravated.
When applied over the skin, the corticosteroid contained is absorbed and over a time can produce systemic side effects also. Commonly these are, swelling over face and feet, diabetes and hypertension, proneness to infections, liver damage, stunting of growth in children, masculinisation in case of women.
These creams contain steroids with some other chemicals used as antiseptic or moisturizer or for the fragrance, etc. One may have allergy to these chemicals and develop allergic reactions after application. These reactions may be in the form of skin rashes or blisters with itching.
Therefore one can realize that something used for beautification can lead to many kinds of medical problems after some years. The time to develop problems and their intensity varies with the potency of the product used and the time duration.
The products may be mild, moderate, potent or most potent depending on the percentage of the corticosteroid contained. For example, betamethasone 1%. Cosmetics containing greater strength of steroid will produce adverse effects faster than those with lower strengths.
Side effects will develop early if there is some pre existing skin problem. Pregnant women or those breast feeding babies should avoid these products totally.
After being absorbed from the skin, the steroid can harm the baby through its teratogenic effect
Skin is a cover for the entire body. So please do not abuse it by applying anything you fancy, for short term enhancement in cosmetic appearance. Beauty of the skin depends on age, genetic factors, hydration and nutrition of the body, amount of exercise taken and the general health of the body.
Apart from age and genes inherited, one can very well regulate the other factors and achieve a soft and lovely skin.
It should always be remembered that beauty is skin deep, i.e. there are many other factors which make a person more attractive, rather than a beautiful face. A smiling, kind face will always look beautiful, irrespective of the skin texture.
Still if one is keen on using cosmetics, it is wise to check what the product contains, before using it.