Hydrocortisone is used to treat different skin conditions, including poison oak, ivy, eczema, insect bites, itching, rash, allergies, and dermatitis. It reduces the itching, redness, and swelling that happens with these types of conditions. Hydrocortisone is considered a mild corticosteroid.
How Is It Used?
There are many different products available. Most can be purchased without a prescription, but some do require a prescription. The medication is used on the skin only and shouldn’t be used on the underarms or face unless a doctor directs you to do so. Some of the products are meant to be used on the scalp.
When using the medication, you want to correctly follow the directions on the package. If using a foam or lotion, shake well before use and clean and dry the application area. Most of the medications should be applied up to four times per day but the length of treatment and dosage will depend on the type of condition you are trying to treat. You shouldn’t be wrapping, covering, or bandaging the area. If it’s being used near the diaper area on a baby, you shouldn’t use a tight-fitting diaper. The medication should not be used near the mouth, eyes, or nose, and if it’s near these areas then they should be rinsed with plenty of water.
Side Effects of Hydrocortisone
There are some side effects associated with hydrocortisone, just like with any other medication. Burning, dryness, redness, stinging, or irritation of the application site can happen. Unusual hair growth, hair bumps, acne, skin discoloration, or thinning can happen. While many people do not experience side effects, they still can develop. If the area starts to bleed, then you need to contact a doctor. A serious allergic reaction is rare but can happen and the signs of an allergic reaction include trouble breathing, severe dizziness, itching, swelling, and rash.
Precautions for Hydrocortisone
You shouldn’t use hydrocortisone if there is a sore or infection in the area you are treating since skin infections can become worse when this mediation is used. Children are more sensitive to the effects of too much medication. The medication shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. It’s not clear if the drug passes into breast milk when you apply it to the skin, but similar medications will pass to the breast milk when taken by mouth. It’s possible that this medication can interact with some other drugs, but you shouldn’t stop taking or change the dosage of any other medications you are currently on.
More about Hydrocortisone
The cream can be harmful if swallowed. The medication shouldn’t be shared with others and should only be used to treat the current condition and not used for other skin problems that may come up later. A missed dose should be made up if you remember, but if it’s near the time of the next one then skip it. Storage information is printed on the package, but the medication should be stored in the bathroom and protected from moisture and light. It should not be disposed of by being flushed down the toilet.
Dangers of Steroid Cream
While there are some benefits to hydrocortisone and other steroid cream in reducing inflammation, there are some dangers associated with the use of steroid cream. Many of these side effects are related to long-term and frequent use, but some can happen within days of starting therapy. The most common effects range from mild to more severe and permanent.
Tachyphylaxis is a fast decrease in the response to a topical steroid cream because of repeated use. Overuse of the cream can cause the skin to develop a tolerance and then it makes it useless. When this happens, many people then increase the dosage or use it more frequently, which only increases the problem. This effect may be reversed if you stop treatment for a week and then restart.
Too much use of a topical steroid on the face can cause rosacea. Attempts to use a lower strength steroid or even cut back and stop can lead to facial redness and fluid filled bumps.
Use of steroids in the same area of the skin can cause thinning of the epidermis and changes in the tissue of the dermis. When this happens, the skin starts to become lax, shiny, wrinkled, and degenerate. The affected areas are noticeably thinner than the surrounding skin with the sudden prominence of underlying veins, hypopigmentation, and visible spider veining. It can be reversible once steroid cream is stopped, but in order for the skin to thicken and heal, it can take months.
Excessive use of topical steroid cream in certain areas where skin touches other skin, such as the armpits and the groin, can cause stretch marks. These stretch marks from the steroid are irreversible and permanent. These marks are often itchy and may actually need some lower strength steroid in order to treat the itch.
Alteration of Infection
Since a steroid cream changes the way the immune system works, they can actually inhibit the ability of the skin to fight off fungal and bacterial infections. An example of this is when someone uses a topical steroid to treat an itchy groin rash. If the cause of the rash is fungal then the rash actually gets itchier and redder and then spreads more than just a typical fungal infection. This can lead to another condition called tinea incognito. This means the rash is inflamed and has visible pustules.
Allergy to a Topical Steroid
Some people are allergic to a non-active ingredient of a tropical steroid, which can also be called the vehicle. Those who use multiple prescriptions, including over-the-counter ones, and have a chronic skin condition are at a greater risk of developing these allergies.
If someone has glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye is increased to where it starts to damage the optic nerve. There are some isolated reports of people developing glaucoma after using topical steroids for long-term use around the eyes. It’s not exactly clear how this happens, but it’s possible that enough steroid is absorbed in the surrounding tissue and leeches into the eye itself to cause the disease.
It’s important to be aware of the different side effects and dangers of hydrocortisone and other steroid cream. While the medication is supposed to make you better and treat your condition, it can also make you sick and cause other issues. If this has happened to you, you could have a case and an experienced drug lawsuit attorney, such as Attorney Terry Bryant, can help you get the compensation you deserve.