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The Truth About Hydrocortisone

Baby_stethescopeHydrocortisone is a corticosteroid and has been used to reduce swelling and itching for more than 50 years.  It has been vital in the treatment of skin ailments including eczema, psoriasis, rashes, allergic reactions, and even some serious autoimmune skin diseases.   Hydrocortisone can also be used for common skin issues such as bug bites and poison ivy.  So why the concern about its use?

Let’s be clear about hydrocortisone – it is a medicine, not a lotion.  When using hydrocortisone – and all medicines – you should always pay close attention to how and when they should be used.  Medicines should be used only when following the recommendations of a physician or manufacturer.  In particular with hydrocortisone, there is a saying among physicians “Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.”

As with all medicines, if hydrocortisone is used improperly there can be side effects. Overuse of corticosteroids can lead to the thinning of skin, the appearance of ridges or loss of skin color.   Overuse of hydrocortisone all over the body for long periods of time can lead to even more serious concerns, including adrenal gland dysfunction.

Topical hydrocortisone is found in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription formulas and can come in a variety of forms such as creams, lotions, ointments, spray, gel, foam, and stick. In the USA, topical corticosteroids are categorized into seven categories, based upon their strength. These categories are labeled I to VII with I being the strongest and VII being the weakest. OTC 1% hydrocortisone is in category VII and is known to be one of the weakest topical corticosteroids.

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Over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone is safe for children over the age of two.  It can be used safely with babies when used in small amounts and for short periods of time. The Baby Pibu™  team recommends contacting your doctor before using hydrocortisone on babies, including the use of our Rash Relief, which can be very effective for treating mild eczema.

As a rule of thumb,  if you are treating a rash with topical hydrocortisone and you don’t see significant improvement after three days, or if you are using it once a week, contact your physician.  Topical hydrocortisone can be used on all body parts but should not be used for long periods of time on the face, groin and around the joints. Do not use topical hydrocortisone for the treatment of diaper rash.

Hydrocortisone is not a cure-all, but it is very effective in treating skin conditions such as eczema, baby acne, cradle cap, chapped skin from drool, and bug bites.  Be sure to communicate with your doctor to check that Baby Pibu™ Rash Relief is safe for your child.  And remember, hydrocortisone is a medicine – not a lotion – and should only be used as directed.  For more information about the benefits of hydrocortisone and its use, click on the links below.

Top Uses for Hydrocortisone

Hydrocortisone Descriptions and Brand Names

Babies and Eczema

Ask Dr Sears – Eczema

– The Baby Pibu Team

 

Click here for more information about Eczema.

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