What is Hydrocortisone?
Hydrocortisone is a mild topical corticosteroid that is applied to the skin to treat a wide variety of inflammatory skin disorders and associated symptoms such as itching, swelling and redness. Hydrocortisone is a prescription-only medicine.
What is Hydrocortisone used for?
Hydrocortisone cream or ointment is used to treat various inflammatory skin disorders such as:
- Various types of eczema;
- Seborrheic eczema (yellowish, scaly plaques of skin, often between the eyebrows or around the mouth or nose);
- Itching and/or pain (e.g. from insect bites or haemorrhoids);
- Certain forms of systemic lupus erythematosus.
Hydrocortisone works by narrowing blood vessels and decreasing the release of inflammatory substances. This reduces redness, itching and scaling. Hydrocortisone improves symptoms within a few days.
How to use Hydrocortisone
Apply Hydrocortisone cream or ointment to the affected area(s) of skin and massage in gently. Do not get the treated areas wet within half an hour of application because the medicine will rinse off. Avoid getting the product in the eyes. Do not apply to the eyelids or the skin around the eyes. Wash your hands immediately after applying the cream or ointment. Corticosteroids are not suitable for long-term use. As soon as the condition starts to improve, you should use the cream or ointment less frequently (for instance every other day, then every other two days and so on).
Hydrocortisone is available as a cream or ointment. The doctor will recommend the right variant for you depending on your symptoms. Daily dose and duration must also be determined by a doctor. The general recommended dose in adults and children is:
- a thin layer applied to the affected area(s) of skin twice a day.
Only use a dressing with this medicine if the doctor has advised you to do so. Read the package leaflet before use.
Like all medicines, Hydrocortisone may cause side effects. Some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine include:
- Thinning of the treated skin;
- Red patches and scaling around the mouth;
- Striae (stripe-like skin marks);
- A decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands (only if used long term).
Consult a doctor if these or other side effects are severe. For more information on side effects, see the package leaflet.
When not to use Hydrocortisone
Hydrocortisone cream or ointment is not suitable for everyone and should not be used if:
- You are allergic to hydrocortisone or any other ingredient in this medicine;
- Your skin problem is caused by fungi, yeasts, viruses, bacteria or parasites;
- You have acne or rosacea;
- Your skin is broken or ulcerated;
- You have a skin disorder called ichthyosis vulgaris or the blood vessels in your skin are fragile.
It is important to tell your doctor what topical skin medications you are already using before you start treatment with Hydrocortisone cream or ointment to make sure the combination is safe.
This medicine should not be used by pregnant or nursing women without consulting a doctor first.
Hydrocortisone cream and ointment do not interact with alcohol or affect your ability to drive safely.