Hydrocortisone Topical

Reviewed on 4/4/2022

What Is Hydrocortisone Topical and How Does It Work?

Hydrocortisone Topical is an over-the-counter and prescription medicine used to treat the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses.

  • Hydrocortisone Topical is available under the following different brand names: Westcort, Locoid, Aquanil, Calmurid Cream, Cetacort, Claritin Skin Itch Relief, Coraz, CortaGel, Cortaid, Cortate, Cortisone-10 Poison Ivy Relief Pads, Cortisone-10 Quick Shot, Cortizone, Cortoderm, Dermacort, Dermazene Cream, DermiCort, Emo Cort, Hyderm, Hydrocort, HydroSKIN, HydroVal, Hytone, LactiCare, AlaCort, Locoid Lipocream, Massengill, Neosporin Eczema Essentials Anti-Itch Cream, Nutracort, Pediaderm HC, Penecort, Preparation H Anti-Itch Cream, Prevex HC, Proctocort, Proctocream, Sarna HC, Sarnol, Texacort, Timodine, Uniroid HC, AlaScalpt

What Are Dosages of Hydrocortisone Topical?

Adult and pediatric dosage

Topical cream

  • 0.1%
  • 0.2%
  • 0.5%
  • 1%
  • 2.5%

Topical lotion

  • 0.1%
  • 0.5%
  • 1%
  • 2%
  • 2.5%

Topical gel

  • 1%
  • 10%

Topical solution

  • 1%
  • 2.5%

Topical ointment

  • 0.2%
  • 0.5%
  • 1%
  • 2.5%

Atopic Dermatitis

Adult dosage

  • Apply a thin film to the affected area twice a day

Pediatric dosage

  • Children below 3 months: Safety and efficacy not established
  • Children above 3 months: Apply the film to the affected area every 12 hours

Corticosteroid-responsive Dermatoses

Adult dosage

  • Hydrocortisone base: every 6-12 hours
  • Hydrocortisone acetate: every 6-12 hours
  • Hydrocortisone butyrate: every 8-12 hours
  • Hydrocortisone valerate: every 8-12 hours

Pediatric dosage

  • Infants, children, and adolescents; products for OTC use are not labeled for use in children below 2 years
  • Hydrocortisone base: every 6-12 hours
  • Hydrocortisone acetate: every 6-12 hours
  • Hydrocortisone butyrate: every 8-12 hours

Limitations of Use

  • Limit to the minimum amount necessary for therapeutic efficacy

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows: 

  • See “Dosages”

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Hydrocortisone Topical?

Common side effects of Hydrocortisone Topical include:

  • acne,
  • skin redness,
  • mild burning,
  • tingly or prickly feeling,
  • changes in skin color, and
  • dryness or cracking of treated skin.

Serious side effects of Hydrocortisone Topical include:

  • hives,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat,
  • weight gain (especially in the face, upper back, and torso),
  • slow wound healing,
  • thinning skin,
  • increased body hair,
  • irregular menstrual periods,
  • changes in sexual function,
  • muscle weakness,
  • tiredness,
  • depression,
  • anxiety, and
  • irritableness.

Rare side effects of Hydrocortisone Topical include:

  • none 
This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems that may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What Other Drugs Interact with Hydrocortisone Topical?

If your medical doctor is using this medicine to treat your pain, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

  • Hydrocortisone Topical has no noted severe interactions with any other drugs.
  • Hydrocortisone Topical has no noted serious interactions with any other drugs.
  • Hydrocortisone Topical has no noted moderate interactions with any other drugs.
  • Hydrocortisone Topical has no noted minor interactions with any other drugs. 

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker for any drug interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions, concerns.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Hydrocortisone Topical?


  • Underlying infection
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Ophthalmic use
  • Treatment of diaper dermatitis

Effects of drug abuse

  • None

Short-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Hydrocortisone Topical?”

Long-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Hydrocortisone Topical?”


  • Chronic topical corticosteroid therapy may interfere with growth and development in children
  • Use lower potency in children; may absorb proportionally larger amounts after topical application and may cause systemic effects
  • Occlusive dressings, prolonged use, application to large surface areas, or application to denuded skin, may increase percutaneous absorption, which may result in Cushing syndrome, glycosuria, and hyperglycemia
  • Prolonged use may increase the risk of Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Prolonged use may increase the risk of secondary infection, may mask acute infection, limit response to vaccines, and prolong or exacerbate viral infections; avoid exposure to measles or chickenpox while receiving therapy; not for the treatment of ocular herpes simplex, cerebral malaria, fungal infections, or viral hepatitis; observe patients with latent tuberculosis closely; restrict use in active tuberculosis
  • Acute myopathy reported with high dose corticosteroids, especially patients with neuromuscular transmission disorders
  • Psychiatric disturbances including euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, and personality changes reported with corticosteroid use
  • Allergic contact dermatitis may occur; diagnosed as failure to heal rather than exacerbation; discontinue therapy and treat appropriately if it occurs
  • May suppress hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, especially in patients receiving high doses for prolonged periods and younger children, which may result in adrenal crisis
  • Anaphylactoid reactions reported in patients receiving corticosteroids
  • Local desensitization (irritation, redness) reported; discontinue if it occurs
  • Use caution in patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hepatic impairment, myocardial infarction, myasthenia gravis, osteoporosis, ocular disease, renal impairment, or thyroid disease

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women on teratogenic effects from topically applied corticosteroids; corticosteroids are generally teratogenic in laboratory animals when administered systemically at relatively low dosage levels; topical corticosteroids should be used during pregnancy only if potential benefits justify the potential risk to the fetus; should not be used extensively on pregnant patients, in large amounts, or for prolonged periods
  • Lactation
    • Not know whether topical administration could result in sufficient systemic absorption to produce detectable quantities in breast milk; systemically administered corticosteroids are secreted into breast milk in quantities not likely to have a deleterious effect on the infant; nevertheless, caution should be exercised when topical corticosteroids are administered to a nursing woman 
Medscape. Hydrocortisone Topical.


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