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Corticosteroids

Reduce Inflammation

Corticosteroids act as an allergy treatment because they reduce the inflammation. Most of the cases of allergy feature irritations of the eyes, skin and nose. In order to relief these irritations, people are advised to use corticosteroids. These medicines prove to be effective in the allergy treatment, as well as in the prevention of the allergic reactions. Corticosteroids are available as nasal sprays, eye drops, skin creams and pills. The skin cream based on corticosteroids is also used in the diagnosis of allergy. It is applied on the areas of the skin that have been pricked, in order to calm down the itch and any other unpleasant feeling.

Nasal Sprays

These prescription medications prevent and relieve allergy symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny nose. For many people, these nasal sprays are the most effective treatment for allergy symptoms caused by hay fever or pets. It may take a few days or longer of regular use before your symptoms improve. Nasal corticosteroids are generally safe for extended use.

  • Beclomethasone (Beconase)
  • Fluticasone (Flonase)
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort)
  • Budesonide (Rhinocort)
  • Flunisolide (Nasarel)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex)

Mild Side Effects

  • Unpleasant smell or taste
  • Irritation, especially during the winter
  • Crusting and nosebleeds, especially in the winter

Eyedrops

Corticosteroid eyedrops are prescription medications used to treat severe allergy symptoms such as red, watery and itchy eyes caused by hay fever and allergic conjunctivitis. They are used for only a short period of time when other types of eyedrops don't work. You may be advised to avoid these medications if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

  • Dexamethasone (Decadron, Maxidex, others)
  • Fluorometholone (FML, Fluor-Op, others)
  • Prednisolone (Pred Forte, Econopred, others)

Side Effects

  • Blurred vision and other mild side effects
  • Increased risk of eye infections, glaucoma and cataracts with prolonged use

Skin Creams

These medications relieve the scaling and itching caused by eczema (atopic dermatitis). Some low-potency corticosteroid creams are available without a prescription, but you should always talk to your doctor before using any topical corticosteroid.

  • Hydrocortisone (Cortaid, Ala-cort, others)
  • Triamcinolone (Triderm, Kenalog, others)

Side Effects

  • Skin irritation
  • Skin discoloration

Pills and Liquids

Oral corticosteroids are sometimes used to treat severe allergy symptoms. Because they can cause serious side effects, they're usually prescribed for only short periods of time.

  • Prednisone (Prednisone, Prednisone Intensol, others)
  • Prednisolone (Prednisolone, Prelone, others)

Side Effects

Long-term use of these medications can cause serious side effects such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle weakness

Contact Information

Allergy and Inflammation - Research
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Center for Life Science, 9th floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-723-4110
617-735-4115