Topical Steroids: FSA Eligibility
What are topical steroids?
Topical steroids refer to a variety of Over-the-Counter (OTC) medical products as well as prescription medical products that treat, alleviate or prevent medical conditions and diseases of the skin. Topical steroids contain corticosteroids usually, and are classified according to their vasconstrictive abilities. Vasoconstriction refers to the topical steroid's ability to narrow blood vessels in order to reduce blood flow, thereby reducing inflammation (MedicineNet.com).
Topical steroids may be applied via foam, spray, lotion, ointment, drops, and gels. Topical steroids are used in contrast with enteral treatments which are ingested orally, suppositories, and intravenous treatments which are injected via hypodermic needles.
Topical steroids are considered eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account if a medical professional has issued a prescription for the use of the topical steroids in order to treat, alleviate or prevent a medical condition or disease. Without a prescription, even if the topical steroids is purchasable Over-the-Counter (OTC), the expense is not considered eligible for reimbursement.
Topical steroids can be classified by many different terminologies and applications, and may be labelled based on an individual producer's marketing department claims and classifications. There are few objective standards for what defines a cream versus an ointment, for example. However, loosely, topical steroids can be defined by their method of application and the area of the body in which they are intended to be applied. Topical steroids can be applied via spray, rubbing, dropper, foaming, solids that are meant to be rubbed, patches, tinctures, etc. They may be applied to any part of the skin, or designed especially for one part of the body such as the feet, eyes, nose, throat, ears, scalp, or mouth (American Family Physician)