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- Medline Plus: Hydrocortisone Topical
- Daily Med: Cortisone Cream Intensive Healing (Hydrocortisone) Cream
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Cortisone cream relieves itch and inflammation attributed to skin rashes. Also called hydrocortisone, these types of products are not intended as skin moisturizers. Depending on the severity of your skin condition, your doctor may prescribe a stronger version than found in drugstores. Higher strengths can also be dangerous when used on the face 3. Ask a physician before use.
Cortisone and Moisturizers
Moisturizers are conceived as products that soothe the skin. This is achieved by water and oil, as well as other ingredients that help your face achieve optimum hydration. While cortisone soothes inflammation, the ingredient itself is not a moisturizer. Therefore, you shouldn’t replace your daily face moisturizer with cortisone cream in hopes of achieving hydration.
Uses and Benefits
Hydrocortisone cream is used to relieve itchiness related to insect bites, poison ivy and eczema, as well as reactions to cosmetics and chemicals. It may also reduce inflammation related to sunburn. Cortisone is intended for short-term purposes only. Medline Plus says hydrocortisone may be applied up to four times per day, but you should call a doctor if symptoms don’t improve within a week 1. The function of cortisone cream is to reduce irritation and improve overall discomfort.
Drugstore vs. Prescription Brands
The primary difference between drugstore and prescription cortisone creams is the amount of hydrocortisone. According to Medline Plus, over-the-counter brands contain between 0.5 and 1 percent. These are considered as “low-strength” versions, but are still sufficient enough to relieve minor itching and irritation. Your doctor may recommend a prescription version of hydrocortisone if your condition doesn’t improve with a drugstore brand. Prescription creams contain between 2 and 2.5 percent hydrocortisone. These high-strength preparations aren’t recommended for facial use.
Over-the-counter hydrocortisone may be used in small amounts on the face, but only if your doctor gives you the go-ahead 3. Cortisone can cause long-term damage to the skin, especially in higher concentrations. Your face is particularly vulnerable because the skin here is more noticeable than other areas of the body. If your doctor approves cortisone cream for the face, make sure you avoid the eye area. Keep in mind that some skin conditions, including acne and rosacea, may be worsened by this active ingredient.
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