CHIANGRAI TIMES – Chiangrai Dr Chuchai Tanglertsampan, a committee member of the Dermatological Society of Thailand, said consumers have easy access to anti-inflammatory products available over the counter and via direct sales.
He said people bought steroid creams for as little as 50 baht without medical prescriptions for facial and skin treatments and overused them until they suffered side-effects.
Many people with side-effects do not see doctors in the early stages and wait until their symptoms become serious, he said.
Side-effects include severe rashes, pimples, sunlight allergy, purpura and lip inflammation, which can be very hard to cure. Some people can become addicted to steroids.
“The number of patients with side-effects of steroid overuse has been increasing in recent years as direct sales of these products grow,” he said.
He said he saw 3-6 new patients with these symptoms every week.
Dr Chuchai, also an academic at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, said the legitimacy of product distribution over the counter made it difficult for dermatologists and Food and Drug Administration officials to control their use.
Hundreds of brands are available in the cortico steroid cream, steroid cream and anti-inflammatory categories, so consumers should be more careful of the consequences of using these products, he said.
The long-term safety of ingredients such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus has not yet been established even in the United States, he said.
Dr Chuchai is also concerned about the abuse of anti-acne medicine Roaccutane.
The medicine was prohibited among pregnant women because it can cause disabilities to unborn babies.
Suwirakorn Ophaswongse, another committee member, said the public should beware of chain beauty clinics offering complicated facial treatments using intense pulse light and radio frequencies.
She said clinics’ exaggerated marketing strategies did not violate Medical Council regulations, but doctors working at those clinics often lacked experience in carrying out complicated operations.
That could lead to medical errors and doctor-patient disputes. “They will not advertise the disadvantages, so patients should be careful,” she said.