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What medications cause thin skin?

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Corticosteroids Blood thinnersNSAIDsManagementSummary
Certain medications, particularly corticosteroids, have the potential to thin the skin as a side effect. But there is very little evidence that other medications can have this effect.
Medically reviewed by Jennie Olopaade, PharmD, RPH
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Some medications can lead to thin skin due to their effect on collagen production and the skin’s structural health. Collagen is an essential protein responsible for skin strength and thickness. 

Prolonged use of these medications may affect collagen formation, gradually thinning the skin.

Consider speaking with a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about what medications cause thin skin. 

They can provide personalized guidance, discuss potential risks and benefits, and explore alternative treatment options.


A person's arm holding up a very thin sheet with light shining through, representing medications causing thin skin.
jamie grill atlas/Stocksy United

Corticosteroids are the main medications linked to thinning of the skin.

Corticosteroids are a class of anti-inflammatory medications that work by regulating the body’s immune response.

These medications mimic the action of cortisol, a natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands. 

In topical form, they treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. This is because they can reduce inflammation and weaken the immune system’s response by binding to specific receptors.

They also come in tablet form — known as systemic medications — and even inhaled forms that treat respiratory conditions like asthma.

But despite their benefits, corticosteroids, both topical and systemic, have several side effects. These include skin thinning due to decreased collagen synthesis and altered skin structure over prolonged use.

Some commonly prescribed corticosteroids include:

Some inhaled corticosteroids include:

These medications can be highly effective in managing various inflammatory conditions. But it’s important to use corticosteroids as a healthcare professional prescribes and promptly report any concerns about side effects.

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Blood thinners

Blood thinners — also known as anticoagulants — may help prevent or minimize the formation of blood clots by disrupting the blood clotting process.

Warfarin (Coumadin), a traditional blood thinner, stops or slows the liver’s synthesis of vitamin K-dependent clotting factors.

Newer alternatives like rivaroxaban (Xarelto) directly target specific clotting factors in the blood.

These medications may help prevent conditions like stroke and deep vein thrombosis. But they can have certain side effects, including the potential for skin thinning.

The increased tendency to bleed — a primary risk of blood thinners — may lead to skin-related problems. These include easy bruising and prolonged bleeding from cuts, which may affect the health of your skin. 

Warfarin can also lead to skin necrosis, which is the death of skin tissue. This isn’t the same thing as thin skin, but it can seem similar as you’re likely to notice changes in your skin like a rash and bleeding easily.

Commonly prescribed blood thinners include:


Some people believe that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin may lead to thin skin. But you should know that there is no research evidence to suggest this.

As with many medications, NSAIDs can have a range of other possible side effects, which include:

  • an increased risk of bleeding in your stomach and intestines
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • ulcer formation (in rare cases)

Managing thin skin

Possible ways of managing thin skin include:

  • using a gentle, hydrating moisturizer regularly to nourish and hydrate your skin
  • applying broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect the skin from harmful UV rays, preventing further damage
  • eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals that promote skin health
  • drinking an adequate amount of water to maintain skin hydration from within
  • taking precautions to prevent injuries or trauma to the skin, as thin skin is more prone to damage
  • if medications contribute to skin thinning, consider discussing potential adjustments or alternatives with a healthcare professional

Some medications can help with thin skin. For example, some research finds that hyaluronic acid filler can help with skin deterioration after steroid use.

Also, some research suggests that applying a medication called spironolactone (Aldactone) alongside a corticosteroid can reduce its effects of skin thinning.


Certain medications such as blood thinners, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs can cause thin skin as a side effect.

If you’re concerned about thin skin, consider talking with a healthcare professional to get guidance for managing your skin while benefiting from necessary medications.

Also, prioritizing skin care can promote skin resilience and maintain a vibrant complexion.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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