Cortisone cream, which is a topical corticosteroid ointment, is used for a number of anti-inflammatory treatments which include skin disorders like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis, along with joint inflammatory problems like arthritis. Sold as hydrocortisone, this water-soluble, synthetic steroid can be purchased with a doctor's prescription. It helps in decreasing local inflammation, swelling, burning, and itching, while also helping the skin retain moisture.
This medication is a mild corticosteroid and is used to treat a variety of skin conditions. Some of the common medical conditions that are addressed by cortisone cream are:
- Insect bites
- Poison oak/ivy rash
- Mild to moderate eczema
- Itching of the outer female genitals
- Anal itching
Cortisone reduces the local inflammation, swelling, itching, and redness that can occur in these types of conditions. While over-the-counter cortisone creams are generally used to treat skin conditions like eczema that occur on sensitive parts of the body like the face and the genitals, stronger prescription of these creams are usually safe for use on the torso, arms, and legs, regardless of the condition that is being treated. The use of this cream for acne has also been known to be effective.
Long term or high strength cortisone creams applied in the long run can cause a number of side effects. Some common side effects on the skin include stinging, burning, irritation, dryness, or redness at the application site along with skin thinning (atrophy), discoloration, and stretch marks (striae) in the long run. Since this cream is applied to sensitive spots such as the eyelids, armpits, and groin, the thin skin folds can cause the cream to penetrate deeper. This results in easy bruising and tearing of the skin, rash around the mouth, permanent dilation of blood vessels (telangiectasia), and increased susceptibility to skin infections.
In addition to these, certain internal side effects like adrenal gland suppression, Cushing's syndrome, and suppression of the production of natural steroid can occur with prolonged use. The presence of these side effects is based on the strength of the steroid, the length of application, the site treated, and the nature of the skin problem. However, in majority of the cases, a very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. If you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, that includes, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble in breathing, then it is best to seek medical help immediately.
How to Use These Creams
This cream should be applied as instructed by the doctor. You can also check the label of the medicine for dosage instructions. Apply a small amount of medicine to the affected area and gently rub it, so that it is evenly distributed. You need not wrap or bandage the area. Applying the cream in areas like the face, groin or underarms should be based on the doctor's instructions.
If you happen to get this cream in your eyes, immediately flush them with cool tap water. Open wounds, or scraped, infected, or burned skin should not be exposed to cortisone creams without the specific instructions of a doctor. If you are pregnant, you need to discuss the potential risks of using this cream with your doctor.
If you have a history of allergic reactions to corticosteroids then make it a point to follow the doctor's instructions for the usage. If you are using it on a child, then consult your doctor to help pick the appropriate potency of cortisone cream, depending on the age of your child.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.