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.

100 thoughts on “Corticosteroid creams should not be used to lighten skin”

    1. Well, they’re all acids, so safety is relative (depends on usage and concentration). But low concentrations of all three acids are generally safe and non-toxic. They’ll only exfoliate the skin and increase cell turnover. The most you’ll have to watch out for is increased sun sensitivity.

  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

  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

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