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  • For various skin problems, such as itching, redness and pain
  • Also used to treat eczema
  • Anti-inflammatory ointment
  • Contains a corticosteroid
  • Avoid contact with the eyes

About Hydrocortisone ointment

Hydrocortisone ointment contains the active substance hydrocortisone which belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids or steroids. Hydrocortisone works by narrowing blood vessels and decreasing the release of inflammatory substances. This reduces skin problems such as redness, itching and pain. These symptoms can occur when the skin is inflamed, or they can be caused by skin conditions such as:

  • Eczema of different types.
  • Local itching (for instance caused by haemorrhoids).
  • Itchy skin conditions accompanied by bumps or spots.
  • Some cases of chronic discoid lupus erythematosus (inflammatory disease characterised by facial rash that resembles butterfly wings).

Hydrocortisone ointment cannot cure these skin conditions, but it can reduce the symptoms.

The ointment can also be used as a maintenance product once the symptoms are under control after treatment with a stronger medicine.

How to use Hydrocortisone ointment

The ointment should be applied thinly to the skin and massaged in gently. Close the tube directly after use. Do not apply the ointment near the eyes or on the eyelids as this can cause side effects. Take care when applying to the face, genitals or on hairy skin. These areas are extra sensitive to hydrocortisone.


Dosage varies per person and is determined by a doctor depending on the symptoms. The general dosage guidelines are as follows:

  • Apply the ointment thinly twice a day to clean skin.
  • Apply once a day after a few days.
  • If your symptoms improve you can cut down to two or three times a week.


This medicine does not affect your ability to drive safely. You do not need to make any adjustments to your diet or alcohol intake while using this medicine.

If you use more/forget to use Hydrocortisone ointment

If you accidentally use too much ointment, temporary skin irritation at the site of treatment (swelling, redness or a burning sensation) may occur. Stop using the ointment and consult your doctor or pharmacist.

If you miss an application, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule.

When not to use Hydrocortisone ointment

Hydrocortisone ointment is not suitable for everyone. Do not use this medicine in the following situations.

  • If you are allergic to the active substance hydrocortisone, other corticosteroids, or any other ingredient in the medicine.
  • To treat skin infections caused by fungi, yeasts, viruses, bacteria or parasites (e.g., cutaneous tuberculosis, warts, shingles, herpes infection, scabies).
  • To treat skin conditions with ulcers or sores.
  • To treat skin problems caused by strong anti-inflammatory medicines, such as corticosteroids, prednisone or prednisolone.
  • For certain other skin conditions: ichthyosis vulgaris (resulting in scaly skin), skin disorders in children that cause skin rash (juvenile dermatomyositis), adolescent spots (acne), flushing of skin with spots (rosacea), fragile blood vessels in the skin, and shrivelled skin.

When should this medicine be used with caution?

The use of this medicine can affect the way steroids are produced by the body, especially in children (see also 'Side effects'). Growth hormone suppression can also occur in children. It is recommended that the height, weight and blood of children receiving long-term treatment are regularly monitored by a doctor.

Applying the medicine under an airtight dressing (e.g., bandages or diapers) or within skin folds (between thighs or in armpits) intensifies the effect of this medicine and can increase the chance of side effects, such as a decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands. Long-term use is also likely to trigger side effects. Your doctor will perform regular checkups to identify potential problems.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Do not use hydrocortisone ointment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding without consulting a doctor first.

Other medicines and Hydrocortisone ointment

Tell your doctor if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines. This includes medicines obtained without a prescription and herbal medicines.

Hydrocortisone ointment is not known to interact with other medicines.

Side effects

Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although some people may not experience any.

Common side effects may include:

  • Thinning of the skin.
  • Reddening, blistering and/or scaling of the skin around the mouth.
  • Permanent stretch mark-like marks.
  • Bruising (blood effusions).

Uncommon side effects may include:

  • Slight loss of colour (pigmentation) in the skin.
  • Spread of skin infection caused by fungi, yeasts, viruses, bacteria or parasites.
  • Worsening of the skin condition psoriasis.

Rare side effects may include:

  • Hypersensitivity reactions (redness, itching).
  • Eye problems, such as an increase in pressure in the eye.
  • Excessive hair growth.
  • Milia (small orange-yellow or white bumps (cysts) under the surface of the skin).
  • Round or oval papules or nodules (granuloma gluteale adultorum).

In rare case, use of Hydrocortisone ointment can cause a decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands. This side effect can be serious. The chance of this happening increases if this medicine is used long term, on large areas of skin, or under airtight dressings (bandages, diapers) or in skin folds. This also applies to use in children. See section ‘When should this medicine be used with caution?’ for more information.

If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor. This includes any possible side effects not listed in this leaflet.

What Hydrocortisone Ointment contains

The active substance is hydrocortisone. Each gram of ointment contains 10 mg hydrocortisone.

Package leaflet

Read the package leaflet before use. The official package leaflet of Hydrocortisone ointment is available for download here.

Reviewed by:

Dr Arco Verhoog, Pharmacist Registrationnumber: BIG: 19065378617 Last checked: 29-06-2023 | Still valid

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