Hydrocortisone Topical : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Hydrocortisone topical is used to treat the redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort of various skin conditions. Hydrocortisone is in a class of medications called corticosteroids. It works by activating natural substances in the skin to reduce swelling, redness, and itching.
How should this medicine be used?
Hydrocortisone comes as an ointment, cream, solution (liquid), spray, or lotion to use on the skin. Hydrocortisone topical is generally used one to four times a day for skin problems. Apply it at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription or product label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you don’t understand. Use hydrocortisone exactly as directed. Do not apply more or less or apply more often than prescribed by your doctor. Do not apply it to other areas of your body or use it to treat other skin conditions unless your doctor tells you to.
If your doctor has prescribed hydrocortisone for your condition, call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve within the first 2 weeks of your treatment. If you got hydrocortisone without a prescription (over the counter) and your condition does not improve in 7 days, stop using it and call your doctor.
To use hydrocortisone topical, apply a small amount of ointment, cream, solution, spray, or lotion to cover the affected area of skin with a thin, even film and rub in gently.
This medicine is for use on the skin only. Do not allow hydrocortisone topical to get in your eyes or mouth and do not swallow it.
Do not wrap or bandage the treated area unless your doctor tells you to. If you have psoriasis, your doctor may recommend an occlusive dressing.
If you are applying hydrocortisone topical to a child’s diaper area, do not cover the area with tight-fitting diapers or plastic briefs.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using hydrocortisone topical,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to hydrocortisone, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in hydrocortisone topical products. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes or Cushing’s syndrome (an abnormal condition caused by too much hormones [corticosteroids] ).
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while using hydrocortisone topical, call your doctor.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double amount to make up for a forgotten dose.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Hydrocortisone topical may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- burning, itching, irritation, redness, or dryness of the skin
- unwanted hair growth
- skin color changes
- tiny red bumps or rash around the mouth
- small white or red bumps on the skin
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- severe rash
- redness, swelling, or other signs of skin infection in the place where you applied hydrocortisone
Children who use topical hydrocortisone may be at increased risk for side effects including slow growth and delayed weight gain. Talk to your child’s doctor about the risks of applying this medicine to your child’s skin.
Hydrocortisone topical may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not freeze it.
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
If someone ingests hydrocortisone, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has passed out or is not breathing, call your local emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about hydrocortisone topical.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
- Anusol HC®
- Cortizone 10®
- Cortizone 10® Quick Shot Anti-Itch Spray
- Dermasorb® HC
- Neosporin® Eczema Essentials
- Proctocort® Cream
Brand names of combination products
- Cortisporin® (containing Bacitracin, Hydrocortisone, Neomycin, Polymyxin B)
- Epifoam® (containing Hydrocortisone, Pramoxine)
- Pramosone® (containing Hydrocortisone, Pramoxine)
- Xerese® (containing Acyclovir, Hydrocortisone)
- U-Cort® (containing Hydrocortisone, Urea)
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.