Brand names: Hydrocortisone Skin Preparations, Cetacort, Hytone, Nutracort
Hydrocortisone creams and lotions contain a steroid medication that relieves a variety of itchy rashes and inflammatory skin conditions.
When you apply a hydrocortisone cream or lotion, you inevitably absorb some of the medication through your skin and into the bloodstream. Too much absorption can lead to unwanted side effects elsewhere in the body. To keep this problem to a minimum, avoid using large amounts of hydrocortisone over extensive areas, and do not cover it with airtight dressings such as plastic wrap or adhesive bandages unless specifically told to by your doctor.
Use hydrocortisone exactly as directed, and only to treat the condition for which your doctor prescribed it.
Apply the medication directly to the affected area. Hydrocortisone cream and lotion are for use only on the skin. Be careful to keep them out of your eyes.
If you are using hydrocortisone for psoriasis or a condition that has been difficult to cure, your doctor may advise you to use a bandage or covering over the affected area. If an infection develops, remove the bandage and contact your doctor.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue using hydrocortisone.
Do not use Hydrocortisone if it has ever given you an allergic reaction.
Avoid covering a treated area with waterproof diapers or plastic pants. They can increase unwanted absorption of hydrocortisone.
If you use Nutracort over large areas of skin for prolonged periods of time—or cover the treated area—the amount of the hormone absorbed into your bloodstream may eventually lead to Cushing's syndrome: a moon-faced appearance, fattened neck and trunk, and purplish streaks on the skin. You can also develop glandular problems or high blood sugar, or show sugar in your urine. Children, because of their relatively larger ratio of skin surface area to body weight, are particularly susceptible to overabsorption of hydrocortisone.
Long-term treatment of children with steroids such as hydrocortisone may interfere with growth and development.
If an irritation develops, stop using the medication and contact your doctor.
No interactions have been reported.
The effects of hydrocortisone during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. It is not known whether Nutracort appears in breast milk in sufficient amounts to affect a nursing baby. To avoid any possible harm to your baby, use hydrocortisone sparingly, and only with your doctor's permission, when breastfeeding.
Apply hydrocortisone cream or lotion to the affected area 2 to 4 times a day, depending on the severity of the condition.
Limit use to the least amount necessary, as directed by your doctor.
Extensive or long-term use can cause Cushing's syndrome (see "Special warnings about Nutracort"), glandular problems, higher than normal amounts of sugar in the blood, and high amounts of sugar in the urine. If you suspect an overdose of hydrocortisone, seek medical treatment immediately.