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Learn how corticosteroids can help treat inflammation with a consultation from one of our board-certified primary care doctors online. Get a new prescription or refill for corticosteroids from a top-rated doctor online.*

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About corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are medications designed to reduce inflammation by blocking the production of certain chemicals. Corticosteroids are the man-made version of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the body's adrenal glands. Cortisol is vital in several processes, including stress and immune response.

Corticosteroids are often prescribed to treat inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis. At higher doses, corticosteroids can also reduce immune system activity. There are four types of prescription corticosteroids.

corticosteroids treat

The most common condition treated with corticosteroids is rheumatoid arthritis. When someone with rheumatoid arthritis experiences a symptom flare-up, corticosteroid injections can quickly relieve inflamed joints.

Corticosteroids are available in several forms, including topical corticosteroids and inhaled corticosteroids, to treat conditions such as skin rashes, inflammatory bowel disease, gout flares, and asthma exacerbations by easing swelling and irritation.

Types of corticosteroids available online

The four types of corticosteroids: are hydrocortisone, acetonide, betamethasone, and esters. Corticosteroids can be systemic or localized to target specific areas of the body, such as inflamed joints. Most corticosteroids are available as topical corticosteroids (creams and ointments), inhaled corticosteroids (nasal sprays, oral inhalers), oral corticosteroids (tablets), or injectable corticosteroids.

  • Group A corticosteroids (hydrocortisone type)

    Group A corticosteroids are often used to treat arthritis, allergic reactions, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and certain conditions that affect the lungs, skin, eyes, and thyroid. Systemic corticosteroids may also be used to treat certain types of cancer, systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn's disease, and other inflammatory conditions.

    These steroids may be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat the symptoms of low corticosteroid levels.

    Examples of hydrocortisone-type steroids include:

    • Dermacort (hydrocortisone)

    • Cortison (cortisone acetate)

    • Prednisone

    • Omnipred (prednisolone)

    • Medrol (methylprednisolone)

  • Group B corticosteroids (acetonide type)

    Examples of acetonide-type steroids include:

    • Trianex (triamcinolone acetonide)

    • Halog (halcinonide)

    • Vanos (fluocinonide)

    • Tridesilon (desonide)

    • Symbicort (budesonide)

  • Group C corticosteroids (betamethasone type)

    Examples of betamethasone-type corticosteroids include:

    • Celestone (betamethasone)

    • Betamethasone – sodium phosphate

    • Ozurdex (dexamethasone)

    • Dexamethasone – sodium phosphate

    • Fluocortolone

  • Group D corticosteroids (esters)

    Examples of ester-type corticosteroids include:

    • Locoid (hydrocortisone butyrate)

    • Hydrocortisone valerate

    • Clobetasone butyrate

    • Betamethasone valerate

    • Prednicarbate

How corticosteroids work

Corticosteroids function by decreasing inflammation and reducing the function of the immune system.

Inflammation is a process where the body's white blood cells and chemicals help protect against infections and foreign substances, such as bacteria. However, with certain medical conditions, the body's immune system doesn't function properly. When this happens, inflammation can work against the body's tissues and cause damage.

Corticosteroids reduce the production of chemicals that contribute to inflammation, which helps prevent tissue damage. Steroid therapy also affects the immune system by changing the way white blood cells work.

  • Side effects of corticosteroids

    When taken as prescribed, corticosteroids are generally well tolerated. However, they can still cause some side effects. The more common side effects of corticosteroid use include:

    • Increased risk of infections, such as oral thrush

    • Throat irritation

    • Mood swings or behavioral changes

    • Temporary pain and soreness at the injection site (steroid injections)

    • Increased appetite, water retention or weight gain (typically with steroid tablets)

    In rare cases, corticosteroids may cause serious adverse effects. Long-term corticosteroid therapy can also cause significant side effects, especially when steroid medicine is taken at high doses over a longer period. These can include:

    • High blood pressure

    • High blood sugar

    • Facial swelling or puffiness (fluid retention)

    • Reduced bone-density

    • Allergic reaction

    • Withdrawal symptoms

  • Corticosteroids risks

    Corticosteroids are generally safe, but there are some risks if you have other preexisting conditions or take certain medications.

    Before you take a prescribed corticosteroid, be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or issues:

    • HIV or AIDs

    • Herpes simplex infection

    • Tuberculosis

    • Diabetes or high blood sugar

    • Gastrointestinal problems

    • Glaucoma or cataracts

    • High blood pressure

    • Any kind of infection (viral, fungal, bacterial)

    • Heart disease, thyroid conditions, kidney disease, or liver disease

  • Corticosteroids drug interactions 

    When you begin a new medication, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or herbs you’re taking. Some medications that might interact with a corticosteroid include:

    • Medicine for HIV, AIDs, or hepatitis C

    • Antibiotics, antifungal medicine, or antivirals

    • Diuretics (water pills)

    • Insulin or diabetes medicine

    • Seizure medications, such as carbamazepine, fosphenytoin, or oxcarbazepine

    • Birth control pills and other hormones

    • Blood thinners, such as warfarin

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen

Corticosteroids FAQs

  • How should I take corticosteroids? 

    If you're taking oral steroids, take your medicine with food to prevent nausea. If you experience upset stomach or abdominal pain, talk to your doctor. Extended-release capsules should be swallowed whole.

    If you're using steroid injections, topical skin creams, or inhaled steroids, always follow your doctor's instructions when taking your medication.

    If you miss a dose of your corticosteroid medicine, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it's almost time for your next dose. Avoid taking two doses to make up for a missed dose.

  • Who shouldn’t take corticosteroids?

    To make sure corticosteroid therapy is safe for you, talk to your doctor if you have any of the following conditions before taking corticosteroids:

    • Liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, or thyroid problems

    • High blood pressure

    • Diabetes (high blood sugar)

    • Glaucoma or cataracts

    • Any kind of infection (viral, fungal, bacterial)

    • HIV or AIDs

    • Herpes simplex virus

    • Tuberculosis

    • Gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach ulcers

  • How long does it take for corticosteroids to work?

    Most oral corticosteroids start working quickly, typically within one to four days, when the prescribed dose is adequate to reduce your inflammation. When taking oral corticosteroids, some people notice the effects hours after their first dose.

  • What should I avoid with corticosteroids?

    Avoid taking oral corticosteroids if you have a fungal infection that requires oral antifungals. Topical antifungal medicine may not be an issue, but always let your healthcare team know about other medicines you're taking before starting steroid therapy.

    Steroids can weaken your immune system, which can lead to an increased risk of infection. Avoid spending time near people who are sick or have infections. Do not receive "live" vaccines while using corticosteroids.

    If prescribed oral steroids for over 5 days, do not stop taking them suddenly. If your symptoms improve, follow your doctor's advice about tapering your dose. This will eliminate withdrawal symptoms or a rebound of your inflammation.

    Long-term treatment with steroids may lead to bone loss (osteoporosis), especially if you smoke cigarettes, do not exercise, or have a family history of osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about your risk of side effects when taking corticosteroids.

  • What is a corticosteroid used for?

    Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Steroids can treat a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, uncontrolled asthma, and skin conditions like dermatitis.

    Steroids work quickly and effectively, which can help stop disease flare-ups. The chronic use of steroids isn't recommended due to serious health risks. However, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid for a few weeks or months in combination with another medication.

  • What is the best-known corticosteroid?

    The best-known steroids are prednisone and methylprednisolone. These steroids are effective for reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Your doctor will weigh the potential benefits and corticosteroid adverse effects to choose the best medication for your condition.

  • Which drugs are corticosteroids?

    Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicine prescribed for a wide range of conditions. Steroids are a man-made version of natural steroid hormones, which are produced by the adrenal glands.

  • What is the difference between a steroid and a corticosteroid?

    Corticosteroids help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune response, while steroids promote additional muscle growth. Corticosteroid medicine mimics the effects of cortisol, a natural hormone in the body, while anabolic steroids mimic testosterone.

3 simple steps to getting corticosteroids online

Step 1

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Step 2

Talk to your doctor online.

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Step 3

Pick up your corticosteroids prescription from your online doctor, if provided

We can send corticosteroids to any local pharmacy.

Corticosteroids pricing details

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  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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