Hydrocortisone is the synthetic form of the hormone called cortisol that is produced by the adrenal gland. It is commonly referred to as the "stress hormone" because it affects how your body responds to stress. Hydrocortisone cream may improve psoriasis on the face and in the skin folds, and reduce itching. A stronger prescription topical corticosteroid is usually required to treat psoriasis lesions elsewhere. It is a common medicine that almost everyone with psoriasis is prescribed by their doctor.
How the treatment works
Topical hydrocortisone reduces the body's inflammatory and immune reactions and is used to treat skin allergies, itching and inflammation.
- Hydrocortisone prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
- It works relatively quickly and is effective at reducing inflammation (redness and swelling) and itching.
- OTC preparations at strengths of 1% or lower are available at your local drugstore.
- Even though hydrocortisone cream or lotion is applied on the skin, some of the medication can be absorbed and enter into the bloodstream.
- Overuse can cause thinning of the skin, diminishing efficacy, and even worsening of lesions.
- Other potential side-effects include skin changes (acne, redness, burning, itching and peeling), thinning of the skin, stretch marks (striae), weight gain, fatigue, blurred vision, irregular heartbeats, and insomnia.
Comments & Suggestions
- It is important to inform your doctor if you are using an OTC hydrocortisone product.
- Overuse can increase the frequency and severity of side-effects, and underuse will not produce the intended response from therapy.
- The effectiveness of steroids can diminish if they are used for an extended period of time.
- Low potency preparations are used for mild cases of psoriasis or on delicate skin areas.
- Avoid contact with the eyes.