Assessment of over-the-counter utilization of topical corticosteroids in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Topical corticosteroids (TC) are generally safe when used rationally which otherwise may cause significant morbidity among people. Over-the-counter (OTC) use of TC is prevalent worldwide and is found to cause undesirable adverse effects. Particularly its use for cosmetic purpose is a very common practice in Africa including in Ethiopia. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent of OTC use of TC, identify factors contributed for the same, the most common types of facial dermatoses noted among the dermatology outpatient department attendees of the selected health facilities, and also to assess the extent of availability of TC in selected cosmetics shops of Addis Ababa. A cross sectional study was carried out in the dermatology OPD attendees of Alert Hospital and Rank clinic, and also in selected cosmetics shops of Addis Ababa from February 10 to March 10, 2015. Data was collected by using screening question format, pretested questionnaires, observation check list and key informant interview. A total of 927 patients with facial dermatoses were screened; of those 200 (21.6%) reported to have used TC on their face. The age of the patients ranged from 18 to 65 years with mean age of 29.96 years (SD=8.56 years). Of the 200 patients who had used TC on their face, 158 (79.0%) obtained the drug as OTC. More females reported OTC use of TC as compared to males (p = 0.049). The types of facial dermatoses noted in majority 46 (29.1%) of the patients was found to be Acne, followed by Melasma in 32 (20.3%) and Rosacea in 23 (14.6%). Community pharmacies for 78 (49.4%) of the patients and cosmetics shops for 50 (31.6%) were the commonest drug sources. Out of the total 9 cosmetics shops surveyed; TC containing preparations were available in 7 cosmetics shops. The easy access as OTC, the unregulated sales and use of TC for cosmetics purpose are the contributing factors identified for misuse of these groups of drugs. Public education, proper regulation of sales practice of TC and the introduction of a continuing medical education programme or training for health professionals are critical to reduce irrational use of TC. Keywords: Topical corticosteroids, OTC, drug retail outlets, facial dermatoses



Topical corticosteroids; OTC;Drug retail outlets;Facial dermatoses