My UK Story

Hello. Having read other stories and experiences in the USA, I feel so blessed that I live in the UK. I hope you don't mind me sharing my story with skin side effects from inhaled corticosteroids because it may help someone on here to consider their treatment. Warning - this is a long story!

My experience with asthma care in the UK

In the UK we have a National Health Service (NHS) that is free at point of use. It has been paid for out of general taxation since 1948. There is continuous contention by mostly right wing politicians about it, but the majority of the population loves it and happily supports it. So, to get to point, I was diagnosed with late onset asthma well after I retired having lived a relatively healthy life.

I was referred by my general practitioner to a respiratory consultant at the local hospital. After examining me and taking note of my various blood tests, he prescribed a corticosteroid inhaler (known in the UK as Fostair). This is a "preventer" inhaler, which is taken twice a day. I already used a salbutomol (Ventolin) inhaler as a reliever. For several years this combination worked well to the extent that I rarely needed to use my reliever. But, more recently, I have suffered from strange bruising on my forearms. I was advised by my pharmacist and GP to use moisturiser and, of course, SPF suncream (which I always did anyway as I have very light skin).

Bruising led to more skin problems

But then the bruises started bleeding as my skin became paper thin. This is very distressing as you can imagine. To be honest, I immediately consulted Dr. Google and found that this was a known side effect of corticosteroids. I asked my GP and was slightly fobbed off. What I got was, sort of, this is the wonder drug for asthma so live with it. Then this summer on holiday in Northern France (so not much different from southern England where I live) I had to cover my arms with long sleeves or a gauze bandage to cover the bleeding.

Oh gosh - more to come!

Skin side effects from inhaled corticosteroids

Again, Dr. Google and I discovered that some collagen creams containing certain ingredients could help with the skin thinning which is not only due to age but to the effect of the steroids. Of course, collagen cannot be put back into skin from the outside. But some ingredients, such as retinol, can help. Of course, I've slathered my forearms with these moisturisering creams even though they're intended to help activate a youthful look to your face!

Right - here's the fulfillment of all this. The respiratory nurse at my GP surgery kindly took me through my concerns and explained how the steroid inhaler worked in my lungs. They also explained how the blood supply in lungs is usually good and how inhaled steroids work. And how my routine, by not rinsing and spitting after each puff of my steroid inhaler, was compromising the effect and causing me to swallow steroids into my bloodstream rather than just my lungs. Steroids in my bloodstream will affect my skin! Aaargh. So, I'm suitable chastened and will go forward with hope for my bleeding arms.

Sharing my experience with inhaled corticosteroids

Well I'm hoping something of my experience will help some people or at least give you food for thought. Side effects are not always what you or Dr. Google may say.

Good luck to all my fellow asthmatics and wishing you good health. Sometimes you have to fight for what is good for you. Sometimes you just need to understand.

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