Topical steroids are available as creams, lotions, gels and ointments; selection of an appropriate product can also provide good moisturization of the skin. The wide spectrum of potencies and bases allows these mediations to be used both effectively and safely while under the care of an experienced physician.
During flares, over-the-counter moisturizing preparations that include a topical corticosteroid (such as clobetasone butyrate and hydrocortisone) are helpful to control inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The intensive use of emollient-based products can reduce the need for topical steroids.
Most modern steroid enemas are foam based - as the likelihood of someone with colitis being able to retain a water based enema is quite low. These act topically applying the steroid directly to the colon - with only small amounts being absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes side effects less likely. The downside is that they can only reach the descending colon and rectum - so for those with extensive colitis oral steroids may be needed. A combination of Entocort and steroid enemas can provide topical treatment to the majority of the colon - again minimizing side effects. As the two main steroid enemas differ quite greatly I will cover them separately.
You can buy some topical corticosteroids "over-the-counter" without a prescription. For example, for dermatitis, you can buy the steroid cream called hydrocortisone 1% from your pharmacy. Do not apply this to your face unless your doctor has told you to do so. This is because it may trigger a skin condition affecting the face ( acne or rosacea. ) Long-term use may also damage the skin. On your face this would be more noticeable than the rest of your body. So usually only weak steroids are used on the face. Those which are suitable are prescription-only.