Topical corticosteroids and Staphylococcus aureus in atopic dermatitis

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992 Jul;27(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(92)70151-5.


Background: Atopic dermatitis is commonly colonized with Staphylococcus aureus in high densities.

Objective: Our purpose was to study the effect of topical corticosteroids on the colonization of S. aureus in atopic dermatitis.

Methods: Sixty-six patients were treated with moderately potent, or very potent corticosteroids. Quantification of S. aureus and evaluation of the severity of the eczema was performed before, after 1 week, and after 2 weeks of treatment.

Results: Fifty-three patients carried S. aureus in the most pronounced lesion before treatment. The colonization was significantly correlated with the severity of the eczema. The density of S. aureus was reduced by topical corticosteroids. The reduction increased with the potency of the corticosteroid and was most pronounced during the first week. S. aureus was eliminated after a successful 2-week treatment with a very potent corticosteroid. Propylene glycol 25% added to a moderately potent corticosteroid did not significantly increase the reduction of S. aureus.

Conclusion: Topical corticosteroids of sufficient potency reduce the density of S. aureus in atopic dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clobetasol / analogs & derivatives
  • Clobetasol / therapeutic use
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / microbiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / analogs & derivatives
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Neomycin / therapeutic use
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcus aureus*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • clobetasone butyrate
  • Clobetasol
  • Neomycin
  • alclometasone dipropionate
  • Methylprednisolone