Before I dive into the world of Triple Action Cream, permit me to tell a brief story or rather give an illustration.
You have this friend with a mini addiction to malaria meds. He gets a common cold and the next you know he’s on his way to the nearest pharmacy to buy amartem. A few weeks later, he gets a slight fever and runs to the chemist again for another pack. Shortly after this, he loses his appetite and once again, goes looking for his go-to med.
How would you describe this friend? Careless? Paranoid? Dependent? But most importantly, ignorant.
The idea behind this illustration equally applies to our beloved Triple Action Creams. I’ve had friends tell me my skin routine of exfoliating, and the rest is unnecessary. They claim all they do is mix a little of these creams in their moisturizers and they’re good to go. Lmaooo
Triple Action Cream is characterized by its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and antibiotic properties.
Some of which include:
They can be very effective in the treatment or prevention of dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin, and minor skin irritations. Despite this, they can also bring problems to our skin when used long term.
What many people don’t get is that these dreams are in fact medications and not just ‘acne clearing’ moisturizers. Why use highly potent steroid or anti-fungal creams or antibiotic agents daily?
These creams are in fact medications and not just ‘acne clearing’ moisturisers
And as applies to any medication, it should be used with a doctor’s supervision. In instances where you chooses to self-medicate, the drug should be taken for a short period. If symptoms persist, medical attention might be required. This rule is supposed to apply to triple action creams too, as they are man-made chemical formulations targeting certain skin conditions.
If you take time look at the short but powerful (almost too powerful) ingredient listing, you’d discover they contain a highly potent topical steroids, strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antibiotic agents.
Common Ingredients found in Topical Creams Include:
Betamethasone Dipropionate (Corticosteroids)
Clobetasol Propionate (Corticosteroids)
Neomycin Sulphate (Antibacterial)
Let me Break it down a bit…
Topical Corticosteroids (The Steroids)
These are scientifically developed anti-inflammatory treatments used to control eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions. They are combined with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial or antibiotic agents in TAC (triple-action creams). The kind we usually see in TAC’s everywhere in Nigeria is the highest potency variants. Betamethasone (found in funbact A) and Clobetasol (found in Skineal) are among the highest potency of steroids. A lower (and safer for regular use) variant like Hydrocortisone is almost nowhere to be found in marketed TAC in Nigeria.
Higher Potency steroids used long term can lead to skin thinning, stretch marks, easy bruising, etc. If you’re thinking diluting it with a cream or lotion can reduce the risk of long-term use, get this. The potency of topical steroids isn’t in quantity/concentration-dependent. This also goes to show that there’s no point in applying too much daily.
These are used to treat infection caused by certain bacteria and parasites. Unnecessary use of antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance. Using antibiotics, in any form, can make the exposed bacteria become resistant to the drug. Excess use of TAC containing antibiotics like Gentamicin can cause our body to become resistant to all forms of this medication. Making it useless when we really need it.
These agents are used to treat medically confirmed fungal infection on the skin such as ringworm, athlete foot, and others. This should only be applied when you have an actual fungus infection. It makes no sense to use an antifungal cream daily, without a skin condition. This principle applies to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents.
Effects of Long Term Use of A Triple Action Cream
This being said, TAC shouldn’t be mixed into daily moisturizers or natural butters of any kind. Extended use of a Triple-action cream without a medical condition can lead to various adverse effects on our skin:
- Stretch Marks
- Pore Clogging leading to acne
- Easy Bruising
- Enlarged and visible blood vessels (Telangiectasias)
- Uneven Lightening
- Mask Underlining health conditions (e.g. Herpes)
- Antibiotic Resistance
- Skin thinning (Atrophy)
- Withdrawal Symptoms (i.e. Reacting once you stop usage)
Why Are they So Easily Available Then?
If they are this risky, why are they readily available in Pharmaceuticals?
First off, triple-action creams aren’t all bad. They can really improve skin condition if used wisely. On the issue of availability, I blame the Nigerian system and pharmacists/chemists. The first culprit, because high potency steroids, like the kind used in TAC, are only available on prescription in most countries outside Nigeria. The second culprit due to their ignorance and carelessness.
Picture this. You walk into a pharmacy and explain a few symptoms to the person on duty, this said person is supposed to have a good background knowledge on skin and other disease symptoms. Well, you explain your dilemma and they’d half-heartedly prescribe a malaria drug or anti-biotic to you.
This scenario has happened to me a lot, and it’s the same for skin reactions. You walk in, tell them you have a rash and they practically toss one at you. With no explanation on how to use it, nothing!
Research showed that most pharmacists prescribe Triple-action cream because of a lack of patience to properly identify the skin problem, lack of knowledge on appropriate management strategy, or lack of appropriate tools for diagnosis.
The Proper way to Use Over-The-Counter Triple Action Cream
- Limit usage to 1 – 2 weeks, if symptoms persist, see a dermatologist or your doctor.
- If you had a skin condition, discontinue use once sure it’s all cleared up.
- Do not mix them with a daily moisturizer! (Can’t shout this enough, they are medications.)
- These products are rampant and therefore prone to a lot of imitation goods. Buy them from reputable chemists, and if possible, buy the ones with a scratch bar.
- Best used at night
Alternatives to Using Triple Action Cream for better skin
Although this cream was made initially for babies with diaper rash, it also proves effective to a lot of other uses. You could use this as a spot treatment at night to help heal and fight acne. It is also effective with acne scars, treating sunburns, and many more.
Adopt a skincare routine that suits your needs
This is simple. The better you care for your skin, the less you’d need TAC.
This brand has a wide range of products that can really improve skin appearance. From baby products to face and body washes/ lotions. Ingredients in Sebamed are toxin-free and can’t pose any harm to your skin’s health. The only downside is it has fragrance. I’d recommend the clear face gel, foaming wash, and body wash.
Black soap has a wide variety of natural ingredients can really help maintain your skin and even out your complexion. Take note though, a good black soap shouldn’t be ‘black’. A dark brownish inconsistent colour is a way to spot its authenticity.
Most of you have already heard of the many benefits of vitamin C to our skin. It is safe for every skin type so you don’t have a worry about any risks using it. Vitamin C also helps in brightening the complexion and evening the skin tone. You can learn more about the benefits of vitamin C here. If you want to add anything to daily moisturizer, it should be vitamin C
I’ve said this several times, but I’ll say it again. What you eat can really affect the health and appearance of our skin. Eat more organic food, fruits, and vegetables really give our body the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
That’s it! Triple action creams aren’t the spawn of the devil, but they can be if not used properly. Handle them like any other medication and you’re all good.