Section : History & Terminology

Oral steroids in dermatology: the story behind it

  • The use of steroids in dermatology was initiated by two American New-York based dermatologists: Drs Marion Sulzberger and Victor Witten.
  • Oral steroids:
    • results of orally administered cortisone acetate were published in the Archives of Dermatology (now JAMA Dermatology) in 1951 and served the following purposes:
      • “1. to get over the hump for an inflammatory dermatosis” (atopic dermatitis, dermatitis herpetiformis, nummular eczema
      • 2. to give relief of acute or chronic dermatosis such as penicillin urticaria, multiform drug eruptions…even if the condition is self-limiting
      • 3. to give relief when dermatoses are investigated further (pruritus)
      • 4. to get a dermatosis under control
      • 5. as a purely temporary measure of practical usefulness…such as when traveling to an area where a dermatoses responds better.
      • 6. to help a patient in an emergency (wedding, party)
      • 7. to maintain remission in which the prognosis is very poor (pemphigus vulgaris)”

Source of information: Crissey JT el al. Dermatology and Dermatologists (2002). Parthenon Publishing