Oral corticosteroids - also known simply as steroids - are a class of prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat inflammation. With vitiligo, low-dose oral corticosteroids are typically used only as a first-line therapy to slow the progression of fast-spreading disease.1,2
The most common oral corticosteroids prescribed for vitiligo are Prednisone and Betamethasone. Oral corticosteroids can help slow the spread of vitiligo by suppressing the immune system.1,3
How do I take it?
Oral corticosteroids for vitiligo are administered in pill form. In severe cases of vitiligo, pulsed therapy - taking oral doses once or twice a week instead of daily - may be prescribed to reduce side effects of long-term steroid use.4 Oral corticosteroids should be used exactly as prescribed by the physician.
Oral corticosteroids are not recommended for treating non-severe or slow-spreading vitiligo due to risks of side effects. Studies have shown fewer adverse effects in adults using pulsed therapy.4
The FDA-approved labels for oral corticosteroids list common side effects of long-term use including high blood sugar, fluid retention, rounding of the face known as “moon face,” insomnia, euphoria, depression, anxiety, and mania.
Rare but serious side effects listed for oral corticosteroids can include increased susceptibility to infection, weight gain, mood or vision changes, trouble sleeping, and, in children, slowed growth.