Korean J Dermatol.  2021 Feb;59(2):100-107.

A Survey of Physician’s Awareness Regarding the Prescription and Side Effects of Topical Steroids

  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology Research Institute, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2College of Pharmacy, Korea University, Sejong, Korea
  • 3College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
  • 4College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea


Topical steroids are the most commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory agents in dermatology, and patients often experience various adverse events of topical steroid application. Patients’ awareness of adverse effects and understanding of coping strategies for these unwanted events are pivotal elements for the safe use of topical steroids.
This study aimed to assess the prescribing pattern of topical steroids and patient education for safe use by dermatologists and non-dermatology specialists in Korea.
A questionnaire was sent to dermatologists, pediatricians, and other specialists through an online survey. A total of 444 answers were analyzed; then, the numbers were adjusted according to the nationwide proportion of specialists prescribing topical steroids. The total number of respondents was set to 720 after the adjustment.
Dermatologists prescribed topical steroids to 49% of their patients, while other specialist doctors prescribed to 6.4% of the patients. Mid-potency steroids were most commonly prescribed (52.9%), followed by low/weak potency (37.6%), in adjusted analysis. Overall, 12.5% of all respondents and 14.5% of dermatologists reported adverse events due to topical steroids within the last month. The physicians spent 2.1 minutes on average (2.0 minutes for dermatologists) for patient education on proper use of topical steroids. The majority (79.1%) of physicians informed patients of the fact that the prescription contained steroids, while some were reluctant to disclose this information because of the negative perception about steroids in the general population.
This survey provides thorough information on the current status of prescription, counseling condition, doctors’ perception of patients’ knowledge of adverse events, and proper use of topical steroids.


Awareness; Questionnaire; Side effects; Topical steroid prescription
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