Clinical Pearls: What to do with patients on systemic steroids?


At MauiDerm NP+PA Winter, Dr Zone provided the audience with some key takeaway points regarding systemic therapy….

What Does Dr Zone do with his Patients on Systemic Steroids??

Patients on systemic corticosteroids should be tested (prior) and monitored for hyperglycemia and hypertension—many patients’ blood pressure will skyrocket on systemic corticosteroids. Gastric ulcer protection may be provided with H2 blocker or PPIs as many patients will get ulcerative changes in their stomachs. These patients should be monitored every two to three weeks.

Dr Zone also utilizes osteoporosis prophylaxis for patients on systemic corticosteroids. That should include bisphosphonates, calcium calcium carbonate plus D, calcitriol, estrogen, or testosterone.  The reason for this—if you start a patient on prednisone today, there is an excellent chance that the bones will start to demineralize immediately. When prescribing corticosteroids, start high to get control of the disease or symptoms, and then begin to minimize the dose. Give entire dose in the morning or bid early in the day. Alternate day therapy prevents adrenal suppression but NOT osteoporosis.

Taper oral corticosteroids in order to avoid rebound in cases of short-term treatment….In long-term management, slow tapers are important for dealing with adrenal suppression—the last 5mg is the crucial time for coming down slowly.

What about? Intramuscular triamcinolone—Dr Zone has been using this more in his practice. He finds that the patients have fewer side effects; sometimes they have trouble sleeping.

MauiDerm News Editor-Judy Seraphine