What are the side effects of prolonged ointment use?

What are the side effects of prolonged ointment use featured

Understanding the Side Effects of Prolonged Use of Ointments

When you have a skin problem, it’s natural to want to treat it with an ointment or cream. These topical treatments can be effective for relieving dryness, irritation, and other symptoms. However, it’s important to be aware that using ointments for an extended period can come with side effects. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what these side effects are and what you can do to prevent them.

Thinning Skin

One of the most common side effects of using an ointment for a long time is thinning skin, also known as atrophy. With thinning skin, the outer layer becomes more fragile and can tear or bruise easily. In some cases, it may also lead to the formation of stretch marks or worsen existing ones. Thinning skin is especially common with ointments that contain steroids, which are anti-inflammatory drugs that help calm irritated skin. However, prolonged use of these drugs can lead to skin thinning.

Increase in Skin Sensitivity

Another side effect of prolonged ointment use is increased skin sensitivity. This can make your skin more vulnerable to irritation from external factors such as weather or harsh chemicals. Over time, the skin may become more prone to inflammation, which can further exacerbate skin problems.


Using ointments for an extended period can also increase the risk of infections. This is because the skin may become more vulnerable to bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Infections that commonly occur as a result of prolonged ointment use include folliculitis, which is an infection of the hair follicles, and tinea incognito, which is a fungal infection that can occur when steroid ointments are used to treat skin conditions.

Delayed Healing

Finally, using ointments for too long can also slow down the healing process. Ointments work by creating a barrier on the skin, which can help protect it and promote healing. However, if you use an ointment for an extended period, it can interfere with the natural healing process and delay the skin’s recovery time.

If you need to use an ointment or cream for a skin condition, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of prolonged use. To minimize your risk of side effects, it’s best to use ointments for the shortest possible time. You should also follow the instructions provided by your doctor or pharmacist carefully, and avoid using more ointment than is recommended. If you have concerns about the side effects of ointments, speak to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss alternative treatments.

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