Topical steroids come in different strengths, ranging from mild to moderate, potent and very potent. Side effects are more common in high-potency prescription-strength steroid creams. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone is the lowest-potency steroid cream available, but could cause thinning of the skin if used daily for many consecutive weeks. This is especially true if steroid cream is used on thin, sensitive skin such as the eyelids, genital areas, or the folds of the skin. As a general rule, to minimize the risk of side effects, use the lowest strength preparation that is effective. Very potent steroids should only be used for short periods, whereas milder ones can be used longer.