Dermatology videos

Watch our videos about topical steroids, emollients and scalp psoriasis


How to use topical steroids

In this video we describe the different types of topical steroids, how to apply them and use them safely.

  • How to use topical steroids – video transcript

    Hello my name is Tom and I'm a dermatology doctor here at St John's Institute of Dermatology. In this short video I'll describe how to use topical steroids both safely and effectively. This video is not a replacement for the advice given to you by your doctor or specialist nurse. Therefore if you are in doubt please consult your specialist before using any of your prescribed treatments.

    Topical steroids are steroid preparations that are applied directly to the skin. They are used to treat a wide variety of skin conditions and work by reducing inflammation making the skin less red and itchy.

    It is important to remember that topical steroids come in different strengths. Stronger steroids tend to be used on the body whilst weaker steroids are used on the face and skin folds. They come as ointments or creams. Steroid ointments are oilier and are therefore better for treating drier skin.

    Before applying topical steroids wash and dry your hands thoroughly apply a fingertip amount by squeezing the ointment in a line from the last crease of the finger to the tip and this is the amount of steroid needed to treat the area of skin represented by two hands laid flat with the fingers together.

    Topical steroids are usually only applied to affected areas of skin but please do use them as directed by your doctor or nurse. Avoid applying steroids with emollients as this will dilute their effectiveness. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly after applying topical steroids.

    Steroids have been used by dermatologists for over 50 years and the type of steroids found in these preparations are similar to those produced naturally in the body. Some people worry about skin thinning as a side effect of topical steroids but if you use them correctly and as advised by your doctor or specialist nurse, the risk of this is very low.

    We hope you found this video useful, for more information please download our educational leaflet by following the link below. Thank you.


Download our leaflet about topical steroids. (PDF 132Kb)

How to use emollients

In this video we describe the different types of emollients and how to apply them to the skin.

  • How to use emollients – video transcript

    Hello my name is Kim and I am a specialist dermatology nurse at St John's Institute of Dermatology.

    In this short video I will describe how to use emollients. This is a general guide only and should not replace the advice given to you by your doctor or nurse.

    An emollient is a moisturiser which helps to rehydrate the skin. By forming a layer over the skin it prevents water loss and this allows skin to repair itself.

    There are many different types of emollients. Ointments have the highest oil content therefore are most effective for dry skin. Creams have less oil content making them lighter and easier to leave on the skin. For this reason some people prefer to use creams during the day and ointments at night. Lotions have the least oil content and therefore are least effective for dry skin.

    It is very important that you apply your emollients in the correct way for your treatment to be effective. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly.

    If your treatment comes in a pot or tub you should never use your fingers to decant the emollients. Using your fingers can introduce bacteria which can lead to skin infections. You should always use a spatula or clean spoon to remove the emollient from the tub. Following the direction the hairs lie, apply to the affected area in a stroking motion.

    The amounts of emollient you need depends on the condition of your skin. For adults with very dry skin all over their body we recommend using between 500 grams and 1000 grams per week this is a 500 gram tub.

    We hope you found this video useful for more information please follow the link below to download our education leaflet. Thank you for listening.


Download our leaflet about using emollients. (PDF 132Kb)

Treating scalp psoriasis

This video demonstrates techniques to treat scalp psoriasis, including how to apply treatments to the scalp and how to remove hard scale.

  • Treating scalp psoriasis – video transcript

    Hello my name is Karina and I'm a dermatology nurse at St John's Institute of Dermatology. In this short video I'm going to talk about scalp psoriasis and some of the techniques you can use to maximise the effectiveness of your prescribed treatments.

    Psoriasis is a common condition that causes inflammation, scaling and thickening of the skin. It can be harder to treat on the scalp because the hair hides it. The most commonly prescribed treatments for psoriasis are designed to reduce the inflammation in the skin and the overproduction of skin cells. These treatments include topical steroids, coal tar formulations and vitamin D derivatives and these come in different formulations designed to use on the scalp.

    Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before applying any treatments, apply treatment to the scalp section by section and gently massage the treatment into the affected areas. If you have long hair it may be helpful to part the hair to facilitate this and if you have someone at home to help that might make it easier. Be careful not to let the treatment run off the scalp onto the forehead or neck and remember to always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. These treatments are normally used once a day but follow the instructions of your doctor or nurse.

    If your psoriasis has thick scale on top it can be helpful to soften this to gently remove it before using your prescribed treatments. One way is to apply emulsifying ointment or oil and leave under a shower cap for a few hours or overnight if possible. The emulsifying ointment should be washed out with a medicated shampoo and a flat comb can be used to help manually remove any loose scale avoid picking though as this can make the psoriasis worse. This procedure can be undertaken before applying your prescribed treatment and as frequently as is required.

    We hope you found this video useful, if you'd like further information please click on the link below for our downloadable leaflet. Thank you.


Download our leaflet about treating scalp psoriasis (PDF 68Kb).