Side Effects of Hydrocortisone

Hydrocortisone is a medication that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. It belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are hormones that are produced naturally in the body. They help to regulate many different functions, including the immune system, inflammation, and salt and water balance.


What is Hydrocortisone used for?

Hydrocortisone is used to treat a variety of conditions that are caused by inflammation, including skin conditions. These conditions include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis


Hydrocortisone works by reducing inflammation. It does this by preventing the release of substances in the body that are responsible for causing inflammation. Hydrocortisone also reduces the activity of the immune system. It can be applied to the skin as a cream, ointment, or solution.


Hydrocortisone brand names

Hydrocortisone is the generic name used. Below are a list of the brand names used around the world.


United States:

  • Ala-Cort
  • Ala-Scalp HP
  • Anusol HC
  • Aquanil HC
  • Beta HC
  • Caldecort
  • Cetacort
  • Cortaid
  • Corticaine
  • Corticool Maximum Strength
  • Cortizone-10
  • Cortizone-5
  • Cotacort
  • Delacort
  • Dermarest
  • Dermasorb HC Complete Kit
  • Dermtex-HC
  • Gly-Cort
  • Hydrozone Plus
  • Hytone
  • Instacort-10
  • Ivy Soothe
  • IvyStat
  • Keratol HC
  • Kericort 10
  • Lacticare-HC
  • Locoid
  • Locoid Lipocream
  • Medi-Cortisone Maximum Strength
  • Microcort
  • Mycin Scalp
  • Neutrogena TScalp
  • NuCort
  • Nupercainal HC
  • Nutracort
  • Pandel
  • Pediaderm HC Kit
  • Preparation H Hydrocortisone
  • Proctocream-HC
  • Recort Plus
  • Sarnol-HC Maximum Strength
  • Scalacort
  • Scalpcort
  • Summers Eve Specialcare
  • Texacort
  • Therasoft Anti-Itch Dermatitis
  • U-Cort
  • Westcort



  • Barriere-Hc
  • Cortate
  • Cort-Eze
  • Cortoderm Mild Ointment
  • Cortoderm Regular Ointment
  • Emo-Cort
  • Emo-Cort Scalp Solution
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Novo-Hydrocort
  • Novo-Hydrocort Cream
  • Prevex Hc
  • Sarna Hc


Which body parts should be avoided when using Hydrocortisone?

Only the skin may be treated with this medication. Avoid getting any in your eyes. Do not apply it on skin that has been burned, scraped, or cut. If it does touch these places, immediately wash it off with water.


Only skin issues that your doctor is addressing should be treated with this medication. Before using it for any other conditions, especially if you suspect a skin infection, consult your doctor. It is not recommended to use this medication to treat severe burns or some types of skin infections.


How long does Hydrocortisone stay in your system?

The amount of time that Hydrocortisone stays in your system is dependent on the duration of use of the medicine. Some research suggests that suppression of cortisol levels is still apparent 96 hours after topical use of corticosteroid creams, which implies that Hydrocortisone can stay in your system for long periods of time, possibly for up to a few weeks. Hydrocortisone is not recommended for long term use. More research is required about the half-life of Hydrocortisone and how long it stays in your system.


According to the NHS, for people who use Hydrocortisone for extended periods of time (more than 12 months in adults), a withdrawal reaction may occur which can include:

  • redness or changes in skin color (hyperpigmentation)
  • burning, stinging, itching or peeling of the skin, or oozing, open sores


What are the side effects of Hydrocortisone?

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Blistering, burning, crusting, dryness, or flaking of the skin
  • irritation
  • itching, scaling, severe redness, soreness, or swelling of the skin
  • redness and scaling around the mouth
  • thinning of the skin with easy bruising, especially when used on the face or where the skin folds together (e.g. between the fingers)
  • thinning, weakness, or wasting away of the skin
  • Acne or pimples
  • burning and itching of the skin with pinhead-sized red blisters
  • burning, itching, and pain in hairy areas, or pus at the root of the hair
  • increased hair growth on the forehead, back, arms, and legs
  • lightening of normal skin color
  • lightening of treated areas of dark skin
  • reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • softening of the skin


Why does my skin burn when I apply Hydrocortisone to my skin?

If your skin burns after applying Hydrocortisone to your skin, you may have an allergic reaction to the steroid cream and your skin cannot tolerate it. Hydrocortisone also contains cetostearyl alcohol which may cause acute allergic reactions.


How do I taper down from using Hydrocortisone?

To taper down from using Hydrocortisone many doctors advise adjusting to using a weaker steroid cream over an extended period of time. This is commonly known as climbing down the topical steroid ladder.


Which steroid creams are weaker than Hydrocortisone?

Hydrocortisone is considered as a low-potency strength corticosteroid and is located on the bottom of the Topical Steroid Potency Strength Chart. Therefore, no steroid creams are weaker than hydrocortisone.


Which steroid creams are stronger than Hydrocortisone?


What happens when you use Hydrocortisone too often?

If you use Hydrocortisone too frequently or for an extended period of time, tolerance or tachyphylaxis to that potency level of steroid cream may develop. Hydrocortisone is not recommended for extended use which may result in some of the common side effects listed above. Consult with your doctor if you have concerns.


Does Hydrocortisone cause topical steroid withdrawal?

More research is required to understand the complexity of Topical Steroid Withdrawal and its specific connection to Hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone is a highly potent corticosteroid commonly used for skin conditions and the side effects of discontinuing the use of this topical steroid medicine is yet to be studied.

Throughout online groups and communities, there are serious concerns, accounts, discussions and images about corticosteroid creams (not just Hydrocortisone) causing Topical Steroid Withdrawal. The accounts and experiences of the Topical Steroid Withdrawal community continues to grow and has gathered media wide attention for the aesthetic physical severity of many suffering.

Topical Steroid Withdrawal is an iatrogenic health phenomena that requires more research and studies. The International Topical Steroid Awareness Network (ITSAN) is currently building a patient registry to begin preliminary studies.


Is there treatment for Topical Steroid Withdrawal?

Currently, there is no global protocol or medical treatment for topical steroid withdrawal. At TSW Assist, we are identifying crowd sourced insights of products, routines, and therapies that can help manage the inflammation and symptoms during the withdrawal period from topical steroids. Currently, there is no quick cure for Topical Steroid Withdrawal.

Through the community, we are finding insights of the management of the symptoms of TSW, through the tracking of the efficacy of specific products, methods and therapies.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not medical advice. There is no known medical cure for topical steroid withdrawal, but there are collective methods to manage the symptom and inflammation during the withdrawal period. It should not be mistaken that all usage of steroid creams will cause topical steroid withdrawal. More clinical research is required to understand the cause of Topical Steroid Withdrawal within an individual.


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