Can topical steroids cause Cushing's Syndrome?

Cushing's Syndrome (also called Cushing Syndrome) is excessively high levels of the hormone cortisol.

Topical application of potent corticosteroids can be absorbed through the skin and cause Cushing’s syndrome, as well as suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It can also suppress the immune system.

Cushing's Syndrome Signs and Symptoms:

Pink or purple stretch marks (striae) on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms
Weight gain, especially around the midsection and upper back, in the face (moon face), and between the shoulders (buffalo hump)
Thinning, fragile skin that bruises easily
Slow healing of cuts, insect bites and infections
Muscle weakness
Depression, anxiety and irritability
Loss of emotional control
Cognitive difficulties
New or worsened high blood pressure
Glucose intolerance that may lead to diabetes
Bone loss, leading to fractures over time

Women with Cushing's syndrome may experience:

  • Thicker or more visible body and facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods

Men with Cushing's syndrome may experience:

  • Decreased libido
  • Decreased fertility
  • Erectile dysfunction


If you suspect you have Cushing's Syndrome seek a formal diagnosis by your doctor. It's also important to restore good health by eating a healthy diet. We recommend The Eczema Diet because it is a gentle, food-based alkalising diet designed to help the body detoxify chemicals.