Corticosteroid creams should not be used to lighten skin

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.

150 Replies to “Corticosteroid creams should not be used to lighten skin”

  1. dear mam,
    my age 21,married at june 21st 2012
    i have hormonal imbalance(pcos) problem so my skin (for whole body) having too much of pimples and rashes and fungal infection so i used NATASAYA herbal cream for two years after using this cream my skin make glow .. but i stoped for just 1 month it cause many problems in my skin what should i do regaining my skin give natural tips for my problem… please help me

  2. Hi admin, i wnt 2knw if rapid claire and Q+white creams are safe for long term use nd also if they contain any harmful ingredients? tnks

  3. One year ago,I used one of the creams mentioned in the list that contains mercury,seriously I’m shocked.I used the cream to lighten my dark spots I never knew I was doing this much damage to my skin :(,no wonder my skin is so think,and wrinkles have already started to appear :(.Even my beautician told me that my skin is very thin when I’m only 23.I regret,I regret alot using that cream.Please I would request everyone to never ever ever ever use cream like me you’ll regret so bad like I’m regretting.
    Thank you so much to the admin for this article.I would also want to know what else can I do to get my skin back???

  4. Thank u for the info…I am also a victim to those cream..i used an Epiderm creme about a month and my face was awesum..rite now my face developed rashes,acne, dark spots, wrinkles and i look horrible and every1 who is usin these cream should stop it now.. My face is also dry and its lyk my life is over cos am not goin anywhr and even to the please help me,wht could i use to get my beautiful face back..i hd tried everything and its not working

    1. Hi Kay, you can try applying a deep healing oil like castor oil or extra virgin coconut oil on your damaged skin. This is not a ‘quick fix’, but if you’re patient and use it daily, I believe it can help rebuild and heal your skin over time (could take several months to a year).

      1. Thank you Hessa…
        I bought Castor Oil…
        will apply it and hoping for the best…
        Wil post for the results after

  5. Hi I’ve being using bio clair over 11 years,I stop recently my face got even darker than before with dark spot and pimples,pls help to reverse the damages,will I get back to my natural colour?

  6. hi mam…pls i reali need your help!my face has gone gaga!i used an anti fungal,anti inflammatory and anti bacteria cream called funbacte A for abt 6 months…my skin was smooth during dis period..but i had 2 stop cos i started having dark patches on my face…now my face has gone….i cant describe it…its so bad dat im ashame 2 leave d house….its lyk a world full of pimples and dark spot…im currently using sebamed deep cleansing bar and clearasil rapid action toner…but its still not working….pls wat do i do

    1. Hello you can do facial treatment first with Face steaming open any pores you have in there then apply healing oil that is what helps me am sure you own can not be as worst as mine If you contact me I will try and the address were I want for my facial treatment for you. Now my skin is getting better I can now go out with confidence

  7. Hey Kay, am using Ingram’s camphor cream (Herbal) does it have those strong & harmful chemicals? plze reply through my email.

  8. hi hessa or any other admin…i wanted to try out neotone radiance for day and neotone serum for nite….is tht product safe for long term?wil it cause side effect once stopped?

    1. Hi snowbear, from the ingredients list, it doesn’t look like there’s any corticosteroids or hydroquinone in those products, so they should be safe for long-term use. It’s quite unlikely there’ll be side effects once stopped.

  9. HESSA,
    ive been using covelant for 6-8 months and have stopped, my skin looks discolored i dont know if its now in the process of returning back to its original skin color, i am 16 years old and mistake my sisters cream for normal cream.
    will my skin repair the damage if yes i know this will take months but i don’t care i have never had intentions to bleach and love my brown complexion.
    when i found out it was steriods use to treat ezcema i stop right away resulting in break out of spots that later changed black. their fading slowing but surly i just need some reassurance that this is the correct process of my skin repairing its self. thanks

  10. I’m dark skinned and wants to stop using d bleaching cream I use @ d moment, I just want to brighten a little, what oil or serum can u recommend to mix with my usual nycil baby lotion. Thanks

  11. Stop using it. Skin bleaching for me as a white lady makes me feel so sad. It saddens me that any black person would ever put chemicals to bleach their skin. I think black skin is beautiful. My boyfriend is from Uganda and is the complete opposite to me being a celtic white lady.

    I tell him everyday how beautiful his skin is and how much I love his afro hair. It was colonisation and slavery that made black people feel inferior about their colour. But you do not have to conform to that. God made you the way you are for a reason. Embrace you and please do not put anymore chemicals on your skin. Just be you because I am sure underneath your insecurities you are a beautiful woman. Good luck x

  12. hey.. thank you for your information.. well i have not applied any of these chemical on my skin.. but i have an imbalance effect on my skin.. i have no idea if i am allergic or what, my skin becomes dark in some parts of my body like my forehead my hands my arms..and its so embarrassing.. so i consulted the dermatologist last weekend and he recommended me to use dermovate cream for two weeks.. do you think it will help me to bring my skin in one color?

    1. Hi nehz, since it’s unclear what your skin condition is, it’s really hard to say. It’s probably best to consult with another dermatologist for a second opinion if you need one.

      And if you’re worried something will make it worse, you could test it on a patch of skin first to be safe.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  13. Hey
    Can you help me
    After using hydroquinone cream having excess facial hair growth on my chin area
    There is any solution for that please reply

  14. Hi l hve been using epiderm cream for sometime now that l have stop using it l have some rash. Pliz help me l hve a wedding soon l hve to look good. Will celltone gel work for me?

  15. Hello…………..
    I have been using epiderm lotion for some time now but I normally use nivea Cream but I think epiderm is making me making me more light is it a good thing??????I’m 25 and I have never had pimples and I never use epiderm on my face .

  16. pliease reply me fast …what can treat pimples from epiderm….aand is betamethasone lotion good for that …please i need your replies

  17. Hellow maa..
    am suffering from black spot all over my face, its so embaracing, ive been directed to use epiderm cream mixing it with johnson baby oil.
    will that work or damage my skin?
    am also using a mixture of honey and cinnamon twice a day and wash my face with warm water.
    please help
    advice me

  18. Hello Hessa,

    I’ve been using Bio Claire for about 6 months. Out of no where two months ago I began experiencing anxiety, fatigue and brain fog to say the least. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the creme but this is the only thing I can think of. So I stopped taking it last month and it left me with hives on my face. I still have the hives and is still suffering from fatique, brain fog and more. I went to the doctor and my blood test came back normal. I told my doctors that I’ve been using Bio Claire which may contain corticosteroids, but they seem to dismiss that fact that that’s what can make me feel like this. Help!!!!

    I’ll appreciate any advice.

    1. Hi Melna88, it could be something in the cream or it could be something else going on in your body. In any case, you’ve stopped the cream now, which was a good move. Whatever it may or may not contain, the fact that you broke out in hives after stopping it is not a good sign, IMO.

      I would suggest seeing a good naturopath to find out exactly what is going on in your body. He/she would also be able to advise you on how to heal yourself. It actually sounds a little like adrenal fatigue to me, but I could be wrong.

      Take care


  19. I have been using deproson for 7 years to lighten my skin and remove agne, I am really shocked by your comments because I have never seen any negative results from it. My skin is soft, silky, pimple and blemishless. You should avoid sun exposure when using these products and it is advisable to use them only at night.

  20. Pls I nid an advice on these cream- RAPID WHITE and RAPID TONE ,I sent someone to help me buy Rapid white lotion but geting back to me he bought Rapid tone cos they look very much alike ,d problem now is dat d rapid tone is so thick that I always force it to come out to apply on my skin ,so I think it fake ,pls for those that have been using rapid white or rapid tone ,is there any way to know if a cream is fake or original ,cos I want to b sure so that I can discontinue d use of d rapid tone . Thanks

  21. Goodday hessa, pls i want to know if white express maxitone lotion and serum contains dangerous chemicals. I av started using it and its gradually lightening my skin. Pls i want to know if d long term usage will av a dangerous effect ,so i cn know wat am getin into. Pls i wl b expecting ur reply. Tanx very much

  22. My face is bad now. acne acne acne. i used betasol, clobetasol and some creams without knowing what I was doing to myself. I’m grounded now, what can I do to treat this now?

  23. am so depressed..i
    used to have a very
    smooth skin until
    mistakenly used my
    mom’s cream..its
    called perfect white lotion..i think it has
    hydroquinene and
    steriods in
    caused me a lot of
    pls now suffering from low
    self esteem..pls
    contact me with
    gmail..i can pay any amount..uzomauwa pls

  24. Hi,i used a slimming cream on my face and it has drained all the fat from my skin is sagging esp underneath my eyes i have developed wrinkles underneath my eyes,my skin feels damaged and its not as youthful as it used to be,i look way much older than my age,am 27 please helo

  25. Helloo, I bought fifty’s and had finished using two but my skin have rathet become dark then it was at first so I hv stopped and was asked to buy white express gold lotion which I just bought. But I want to know if it contains any steroids or anyof these harmful sustances which could damage my skin in long term use or whether its skin friendly? Please I need a reply before I start using it. Thanks

  26. Hi pls I need help, I have been using funbact A since when I was pregnant wt ma child, he is eight months now always having serious rash, itching, and he is too thin. I hv taken him to the hospital for rash and given him series of medication but the rash keep coming back and my face is so bad now. Always having itching rash anytime I fell to use it, I was thinking is algeies taking series of alergy medication pls wot do I do

    1. Hi joyce, I’m very sorry to hear that.

      The cream you mentioned is an antifungal with corticosteroids, and was probably not meant for long-term or heavy use. That might explain the bad reaction you’re having now, but why do you think it’s the reason for your baby’s rashes and low weight too? It could be completely unrelated, in which case a doctor would be better able to help advise.

      I would suggest that you see a dermatologist if possible. If not, as hard as it is, the best thing would be to stop using the cream asap.
      You might go through an uncomfortable period, but it’ll be necessary in order to heal. Otherwise, you’ll just be pouring more oil into the fire.

      You can use healing oils like castor oil, extra virgin coconut oil, shea butter, or Vit E oil on your skin to soothe it. Extra virgin coconut oil is especially good for redness/rashes and is very gentle.

      To soothe the itchiness, zinc oxide cream can work well. It’s also a very good sunblock so it can protect your skin from hyperpigmentation while it’s still red.

      Whatever you do use, try to get them in the most natural forms as possible (i.e. no preservatives, chemicals or fragrances) as chemicals can irritate your skin. Cold-pressed oils or extra virgin oils are a good option.

      I wish you all the best, and I hope both you and your baby will get better soon.

      Take care


  27. Hi! Pls, I need an urgent help. My face is so bad with pimples and dark spots and I hv a very dry skin. I dnt know wht 2 use again. I’ve used skineal, epiderm, and now ideal white for my face but, there’ no improvement and for my skin i’ve used jergens, cocoa butter, vaseline lotion but it’s still thesame. Pls, help me out. I’m a bit fair in complexion. Thanks

  28. hy,m using hypoderm dark spot corrector.I want to know if it contains any steroids or any harmful chemicals that could damage my skin

  29. Hello, I’m African and I have spent all my money looking for solutions to my skin problems. I have folliculitis, terribly dark knuckles, facial burns and the ultimate tire track stretchmarks on my bum, breasts and inner thighs, even to my legs. This is as a result of prolonged usage of tube creams with steroids.I hate looking at myself and can’t wear nothing but maxi dresses with long sleeves in summer! Looks like I’m mourning most times. I need your help please. I already got castor oil, coconut oil and shea butter. And have a supply of aloe vera plants. Nothing seems to ever work. Withdrawal is almost impossible.

    1. Hello, I am into skin care with a bias for natural remedies for skin issues.
      First, you need to be patient; this damage was done over years so the repair will probably take as long if not longer. For your stretch mark; I offer my clients a mix of Shea butter, Castor oil and Coconut oil( it has taken a while to find the right ratio) and it works
      Dark hands and feet- scrub them with baking soda to exfoliate gently
      Then in 4weeks reach out with feedback

  30. I also have hair sprouting from weird places on my body and terrible green veins running across my arms and chest and varicose veins on some parts of my thighs. My skin issues are endless! ?

  31. Hey my friend was using epiderm and stopped…now she has a lot of acne and her skin is damaged.she needs a serious help.plizz reply by email

  32. Hi I’m portia 28yrs ago I did develop some syretchmarks and I wanted to lighten my skin between the legs I had my friend saying she used movate and cocoabutter to lighten her skin between the legs it was 2012/2013i can’t remember but i got the worst of my lyf i cant even bath next to anyone at home its lucky someone was using a knife or something the stretchmarks are long and deep you can even feel the inside of my skin please need help what to do

  33. Please I really need help,I used funbact a on my two years old daughter when she was still young,was mixing it to her cream then, have stopped using it for like 8months now,but my baby is having a bad itchy rashes all over her body .she doesn’t sleep at night cos of this and she cries all night long….pleas e am always in tears watching her cry thruout d night cos of the itchy rashes.what should I do to her please..I really need help

    1. Hope,
      Products like these are used short term and only on prescription especially for children.
      In the interim, apply Palm oil on her skin as a mask over the next 2weeks

  34. Hello,I used perfect white lotion and then i discovered rashes, pimples, on my face and at the back of my ears and stretch marks on my belle,i have stopped the cream for the past two months now but i still have a lot of pimples,and some turns out very black and they won’t just go away. Please what should i use to clear them off.I feel uncomfortable

  35. Hi everyone,

    Do not use anuthing that contains steroids or hydroquinone, no matter wat u mix it with it will damage u in the long run! If u want to lighten that bad u cn only use products that contain kojic acid, aha, glutathione, retin a and sepiwhite. Most of these products are expensive. For stretchmarks you can google skin and body clinics arnd your area and have them removed with laser, bio il alone wont help removal of stretchmarks.

  36. I am 40 years old woman. I use to have pimples on my face. 3 years ago I try using different types of bleaching cream to lighten my spots. My face always lighten but d pimples spots remain. My last cream was funbat a which I used for a long time. I stopped using it when I heard stories about it. Few months later I saw a dermatologist who put me on aloe vera cream , lighten cream n sunscreen. She said I have steriod pigmentation/ dermatitis. I stopped using d cream blc it was not working for face become dry n old. I decided to look for cream and soap to hydrate my had acne breakout while trying to moisturise my face. I had to start using different cream n lotion to remove my acne. 2 months later, my acne was gone. Few months later my face become uneven. I started buying different bleaching cream to even out my face, from hydroquinone 2 n other cream. My face did not lighten, I noticed my under eye became dark, my forehead became darker my face have discoloration. After 3 years of treating my self. I decide to see a dermatologists who placed me on hydroquinone, retinol, vitamin c n sunscreen. 3 months after my forehead is still dark. I still have spots on my cheek n my under eye is dark. I was ask to do cosmelan chemical peel. I did n it lighten my face a little. But fore head still dark, 2 months later I repeat d chemical peel n forehead lighten a little. I have tried hydroquinone retinol vitamin c brightening cream n many others. My forehead stands out from my face. I am seriously depressed blc I don’t know what to don’t of. Can someone help me please. How can I lighten my forehead? How can I even it with d rest of face. Is there any thing i can do to repair d damaged .

  37. Hi admin, I use ingrams cream does it have bleaching effect?
    Does it lighten the skin?please let me know through my email

    1. If its epiderm in the streets, the blue box, dont use it, it has steroids…use products that contain kojic acid or natural ingredients if u want to lighten ur skin…google information lindi

  38. Google skin clinics near ur area..if u are from south africa like me u can go to Diva Slimming Aesthetics in Sunninghill, they do removal of steetchmarks. Well stretchmarks wont completely go away but atleast they can fade after a few treatments. Bio oil and other stretchmark creams alone, wont help with severe stretchmarks u need laser treatments to get them removed. They charge R1200 for 3 sessions in 1 area for removal of stretchmarks. Bio oil and other creams will only help abit I guess…Steroid creams like epiderm, bethnovate, movate, g&g, diproson, all creams that come with tubes all contain steroids…steroids cause stretchmarks in the long run…hydroquinine products can only be used for a short while if u use hydroquinone for too long, it makes dark patches on ur forehead called ochronosis. Ladies u must google information first for anything u want to do or anything the u!

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