Conditions which augment systemic absorption include the application of the more potent steroids, use over large surface areas, prolonged use, and the addition of occlusive dressings. Therefore, patients receiving a large dose of a potent topical steroid applied to a large surface area or under an occlusive dressing should be evaluated periodically for evidence of HPA axis suppression by using the urinary free cortisol and ACTH stimulation tests. If HPA axis suppression is noted, an attempt should be made to withdraw the drug, to reduce the frequency of application, or to substitute a less potent steroid.
The Fitzpatrick skin type scheme I–IV was used to classify patients as to skin type. Radiation dermatitis was scored using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) scoring system. A colorimeter measured the redness of the skin at specific areas around the areola. Dryness of skin was measured using a Corneometer ® , with scores averaged using five specific locations. Itching, burning, and skin irritation were patient-scored using a visual analog scale (VAS) of 0–10. Quality of life was determined via the Dermatology Life Questionnaire Index on the first and fifth weeks of treatment. Post-radiation follow-up was by phone with symptoms assessed using VAS.
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