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Adeel Arshad

Authored on 24 January 2024 by Adeel Arshad,

Reviewed 24 January 2024 by Dr Ruch Karunadasa.

Hydrocortisone Cream

Cream medication

Hydrocortisone is a mild steroid which produces an anti-inflammatory action and is effective in the treatment of eczema and dermatitis.

Medication effect duration

Like any other prescription medication you must consult a doctor before using it. PrivateDoc offers a confidential free consultation service that may result in you receiving a prescription for Hydrocortisone Cream if it is deemed appropriate and Hydrocortisone Cream can be prescribed safely.

Skin treatment

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Active ingredients

Hydrocortisone 1% w/w cream

How much does Hydrocortisone Cream cost?

What conditions can hydrocortisone be used for

Hydrocortisone can be used to treat dry skin conditions. These can include –

  • Mild to moderate eczema
  • Primary irritant dermatitis
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Inflamed insect bites
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How to use hydrocortisone cream

Hydrocortisone should be applied topically to the affected skin only.

The cream should be applied sparingly to the affected area, taking care not to get too much on the surrounding healthy skin. Application of the cream is usually once or twice a day until the condition has improved. Once the symptoms have settled, treatment should be discontinued, reduced in frequency or switched to a less potent preparation.

Continuous treatment with hydrocortisone is generally regarded as safe, but in children treatment should be for no longer than seven days. If you have not seen any improvement in your condition within this timeframe then this should be reviewed by your GP.

Hydrocortisone can be used in all age groups including children and the elderly. The cream should always be used in accordance with the prescribers instructions.

Who cannot use hydrocortisone cream

Do not use hydrocortisone if –

  • If you have a known allergy to any of the active ingredients or the excipients within the cream
  • If you have an untreated skin infection (viral, bacterial or fungal) or an infection which is being treated but is uncontrolled
  • you have broken skin, a cold sore, acne or on athlete’s foot.

Long-term continuous treatment with hydrocortisone cream can lead to skin atrophy.

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Pregnancy and breastfeeding

A large pool of data where hydrocortisone has been used in pregnant woman has shown no ill effects on the unborn child. Therefore, it is generally safe to use hydrocortisone cream during pregnancy. However, based upon the knowledge we have of other corticosteroids use during pregnancy (possible systemic absorption), caution should be taken when using the cream on a pregnant female.

When applied to a small area of the breastfeeding mother’s skin, the systemic absorption is limited and is not known to cause any harm to a breastfed child. Therefore, hydrocortisone cream is safe to use during breastfeeding. Take care not to apply the cream to the breasts as to avoid the risk of accidental ingestion by the child.

Side effects

Hydrocortisone is generally safe to use and the incidence of side effects is extremely low. However, as with all medication, there is the possibly some patients will experience some ill effects.

The most commonly reported side effect is itchy skin (pruritus) or a burning sensation at the site of administration. Other hypersensitivity reactions and localised skin reactions (eczema, dermatitis) have also been reported.

Systemic absorption may lead to Cushing’s Syndrome or hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis suppression. Contact with the eyes can lead to the development of glaucoma, cataracts or blurred vision.

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