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What are the Most Common Uses for Topical Hydrocortisone?

By Tiffany Manley
Updated May 17, 2024
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Topical hydrocortisone is used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It is a topical steroid that can be purchased without a prescription. Individuals might use topical hydrocortisone to treat or relieve symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, insect bites, poison ivy and other skin conditions that result in itchy and inflamed skin. It can even be used to treat acne. Topical hydrocortisone is sold under a number of commercial brand names.

Eczema and psoriasis are both skin conditions that cause severe itching, redness and inflammation. Although many sufferers find it necessary to use prescription medications or choose to try all-natural remedies, topical hydrocortisone might provide temporary relief of symptoms. It is often difficult for children to avoid scratching when suffering from these ailments, so a product such as hydrocortisone might provide some much-needed relief from itching.

Contact dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction to various allergens such as soaps, lotions, jewelry, perfume, animals and a wide variety of other things. The reaction causes an itchy rash to pop up on the affected area. Topical hydrocortisone might provide fast relief from itching and inflammation without the need to take oral medications that might cause severe drowsiness or other symptoms.

Insect bites and poison ivy also cause itchy rashes and inflammation. Many products are available over the counter to treat these nuisances, but many people feel that hydrocortisone works fast and provides relief from itching with a cooling product that does not sting the affected area. It is always a good idea for a person to consult a pharmacist or physician if he or she is unsure of the type of reaction a person is having from insects or plants.

Some people claim that topical hydrocortisone helps their acne-prone skin. Application of the hydrocortisone helps ease itching, redness and inflammation, and it removes oils from the afflicted area. If acne has not decreased after using the topical hydrocortisone for about a week, or if acne has increased, it is best that the cream not be used until a doctor has been consulted. Topical hydrocortisone does not treat acne in all individuals.

Hydrocortisone that is purchased over the counter is generally weaker than that obtained by a doctor’s prescription, although it does still work well for many conditions. A physician might be able to write a prescription for a stronger topical hydrocortisone or a cream that has a combination of medicines for stronger skin reactions. It is always important to follow any instructions given by a pharmacist or physician for the use of topical hydrocortisone.

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