What is Hydrocortisone Cream Used For?
If you have skin that likes to act a little contrary, then you’re not alone. Here at Sönd, we have non conformist, acne prone skin, so we know exactly what it’s like. Having other skin conditions such as eczema may mean that you’re constantly on the lookout for products that not only soothe your skin, but support the unique needs of your skin, too.
It may also mean that you’re familiar with hydrocortisone products. Hydrocortisone is an ingredient added to some skincare creams and ointments designed to support certain conditions.
But there’s some confusion surrounding the use of this mystery product, especially on the face. Can you use the product on the face? Is it prescribed by your doctor? Should you ask your doctor or pharmacist for it? Can it make some conditions worse? Or is it beneficial as a steroid used to treat certain conditions? What are the common side effects?
Ever the fact finders, here’s the truth about hydrocortisone, and everything you need to know about using it.
What is Hydrocortisone? Is it a Steroid?
Hydrocortisone is a type of corticosteroid. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on topical hydrocortisone. That is, it comes in gels, creams, lotions and ointments that are applied directly to the skin to treat certain conditions.
Corticosteroids are also available in tablet form, as injections and as inhalers, to treat a wide range of different conditions such as inflammatory bowel conditions, painful joints and asthma.
Is Hydrocortisone Steroid the Same as Anabolic Steroids?
No. Corticosteroids are different from the kind of steroids we might associate with bodybuilders and gym goers. These types of ‘bulking’ steroids are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they build up muscle.
Is Hydrocortisone an Anti-inflammatory?
Yes. Corticosteroids are a type of anti-inflammatory. They mimic the action of certain hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands in the body that reduce inflammation and swelling.
How Does Hydrocortisone Work?
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical product that's applied to the skin. It works by blocking the action of certain proteins that promote swelling and inflammation. It's used to reduce swelling and inflammation and to prevent the immune system from reacting to certain triggers that can also cause inflammation.
What is Hydrocortisone Cream Used for?
Hydrocortisone is generally safe and the creams, lotions, gels and ointments are used to reduce the swelling associated with inflammatory conditions. They also help to reduce itching and irritation.
These sorts of products can be prescribed to help manage various conditions including psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. They can also be used to treat insect bites and stings and in some circumstances, under the guidance of a doctor, to manage severe nappy rash (around the diaper area).
Does Hydrocortisone Help Eczema?
Yes, using this kind of treatment can help to relieve the itching and irritation of eczema. Since it's a fairly strong topical steroid, care must be taken to use it only as instructed.
Can Hydrocortisone Be Used on the Face?
Mild creams of 1% strength can be bought at pharmacies, whilst stronger ones, up to 2.5% strength can be prescribed by a doctor. However, pharmacists cannot sell hydrocortisone creams, however mild, for use on the complexion. This is because the skin here is much thinner than elsewhere on the body.
Using hydrocortisone creams on the delicate skin of the complexion will mean that more of the active ingredient will be absorbed, which could lead to an adverse reaction and side effects. Aside from that, long term use of topical steroids can cause side effects such as a rash or damage to the skin on the face.
That said, sometimes, these creams are prescribed by doctors for use on the complexion. But this can only be done under the supervision of a doctor, in certain circumstances (usually when other treatments have failed to work) and only for short periods of time such as seven to 14 days.
If you're prescribed such an ointment, use only on the affected area and take good notice of how you've been told to manage it in order to avoid an allergic reaction.
In these cases, doctors will usually advise that they’re used once a day, sometimes twice, with a gap of at least eight to 12 hours between applications.
You can minimise your risk of side effects by only using it on the small spot or area that's affected.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
You should find that using your prescribed cream or ointment for a week will clear up your affected skin. It's not advised that you use it for more than two weeks without a break.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Hydrocortisone Cream?
You should never use hydrocortisone creams on your complexion unless you’ve been told to do so by a doctor. Topical hydrocortisone cream is not suitable for use around the eye area - a doctor will never suggest that they’re used anywhere near the eyes. They should also never be applied to broken, bleeding, weeping or infected blisters or on anyone under the age of ten years old.
There are times when hydrocortisone creams can make certain conditions such as acne, worse. They can also cause other conditions such as rosacea and impetigo look and feel worse. If you’ve been instructed by a doctor to use hydrocortisone on your face and you feel like your condition is worsening, contact your doctor as soon as you can.
Do Steroid Creams Thin Skin Permanently?
Other side effects of using these creams and ointments include a thinning of the skin that bruises more easily and the possibility of other infections. This is unlikely to be permanent if you follow the usage instructions closely.
In each case, your doctor will advise how and when to use your prescribed product and for how long. It’s important to follow this advice and to not follow what someone else with the same cream may be doing.
Who Shouldn't Use Hydrocortisone Cream?
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant or have a skin or eye infection, you should tell your doctor before using topical hydrocortisones. You may be unsuitable so it's important to always check first.
Can I Buy Hydrocortisone Cream Online or Over the Counter?
Some online doctors in the UK sell very low dose creams for certain conditions, if you meet certain criteria. You will need to fill in an online assessment form and possibly provide photographs of your condition. Only ever use a reputable online doctor that's registered with the CQC. A handy tip is to use one affiliated or run by a recognisable high street pharmacy chain.
You can also purchase them over the counter from a pharmacy, but again they will be low dose and only for certain conditions.
Other Ways of Caring for Your Skin
If your doctor has prescribed hydrocortisone cream for your , then the chances are, you’ve tried everything to manage your condition.
But if you’re considering hydrocortisone creams then you might benefit from a more holistic approach to managing your skin. In fact, even if you are using hydrocortisone creams on your face, all complexions can benefit from a whole body approach.
Eating well, avoiding stress and sleeping well are all part of our recommended holistic way of managing your skin. Plus, our alkalising range has been specifically developed by us (and tested on our contrary skin!) to support the needs of a non conformist complexion.Topical hydrocortisones are usually a last line of treatment for managing facial eczema and psoriasis. Try the Sönd alkalising range and see the difference it can make to your skin.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.