Corticosteroid creams are almost unrivaled in their ability to quickly lighten skin. However, their results are short-term and when discontinued, skin usually reverts back to its original color. Most importantly, prolonged use can lead to devastating damage that is usually irreversible.

What are corticosteroid creams?

Corticosteroid and steroid creams are prescribed by doctors to treat inflammation from skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. These corticosteroid and steroid creams contain powerful ingredients like Clobetasol Propionate, Fluocinolone Acetonide or Betamethasone Dipropionate. They also come with specific usage instructions because of the potentially serious side effects they can cause.

Skin lightening is a side effect of steroid creams

Many unscrupulous sellers have been selling and marketing steroid creams as skin bleaching creams. This is because one of known side effects of using steroid creams is the lightening of skin color.

The mechanics behind steroid cream-induced skin lightening is not yet known. However, one theory is that steroids may reduce the number of melanocytes or melanocyte activity in the skin.

Black market bleaching creams containing corticosteroids pose a hidden danger

Given that the sale of steroid creams for the purposes of skin bleaching is illegal, black market skin lightening products will not list steroids under their ingredients list anywhere on their packaging. Therefore, most dangerous black market bleaching creams go undetected. Thus, the detection and removal of these harmful steroid-containing skin lightening creams usually only occur after it is too late.


Examples of known skin lightening creams that contain corticosteroids

Bio Claire Lightening Body Creme contains the powerful steroid Clobetasol Propionate
Shalina Diproson cream and lotion contains two types of steroids, Betamethasone Dipropionate and Fluocinolone Acetonide
Esapharma Movate contains two types of steroids, Clobetasol Propionate and Fluocinolone Acetonide
Dermovate cream contains the powerful steroid Clobetasol Propionate

Corticosteroid creams can lead to irreversible and devastating skin damage…

Corticosteroid creams are almost unrivaled in their ability to quickly lighten skin color. However, its short-term results are just that — short-term. When these creams are discontinued, the skin will usually revert back to its original color eventually. Meanwhile, prolonged use of the creams can lead to devastating skin damage which is usually irreversible.

Prolonged use of skin lightening creams containing corticosteroids may lead to many skin problems

  • Thin and fragile skin
  • Stellate spontaneous pseudoscars
  • Strange stretch marks
  • Folliculitis, inflamed hair follicles
  • Skin rash, irritation
  • Itchiness
  • Raised bumps on the skin
  • Excess hair growth
  • Fungal or bacterial skin infections

… and serious health side effects


Corticosteroids are absorbed through the skin and into the blood. Corticosteroids are also more rapidly absorbed when applied to the face, increasing their danger as this is where most people would apply them in order to lighten their complexion.

  • Corticosteroids appear in breast milk. Corticosteroids in breast milk harms newborns by inhibiting their growth.
  • Exogenous Cushing syndrome

How to heal your skin from deep damage due to harmful creams

If you’re experiencing the negative effects from long-term use of steroid or other toxic creams (years of prolonged usage), there are ways to reverse the damage. Our organs (including our skin) are resilient, and if we give it what it needs, it can slowly heal itself.

To support skin healing from the bottom-up, the first thing to do is clean up your diet and lifestyle. Read up on the healing benefits of an alkaline diet as well as raw fruits/vegetable juices.

Another thing you can do is to apply healing, penetrative oils on your skin every day (such as castor oil, coconut oil or olive oil). Castor oil is one of the most healing oils there are. It can be especially useful in treating chemically-damaged skin as castor oil has the ability to draw out toxins. Other beneficial healing oils are extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.

UPDATE: I’ve expanded on this section and dedicated a separate article on it. Read it here.