The use of topical steroid preparations in oral medicine in the UK

Key Points

  • Discusses when to use topical corticosteroids.

  • Provides background on the different choices of topical corticosteroids.

  • Discusses the support of patients using topical corticosteroids.


Topical corticosteroids (TCs) are the most commonly prescribed drugs in oral medicine practice. Use in management of immune-driven inflammatory oral mucosal disease is predominantly off-label and poorly supported by evidence, yet oral medicine specialists have considerable collective experience of prescribing, administering and managing these medications. TCs are also prescribed by others in healthcare including general dental practitioners. Successful TC use is influenced by accurate diagnosis, TC choice (potency and formulation), patient acceptability (including ease of use, taste and texture), frequency of application, duration of treatment, adverse effects, patient support and medication regulations and access. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of TC use in oral medicine practice. Recommendations are based on collective experience to help selection of the appropriate TC to maximise therapeutic efficacy and minimise the potential for adverse effects. This is within an understanding of medicines regulation and preparation availability when prescribing in both secondary and primary care.

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Correspondence to M. Rudralingam.

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Rudralingam, M., Randall, C. & Mighell, A. The use of topical steroid preparations in oral medicine in the UK. Br Dent J 223, 633–638 (2017).

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