Hydrocortisone ointment is considered as a safe steroid to use that is readily available over-the-counter or a stronger version can be prescribed by a doctor. The ointment should be used to properly treat itchy rashes triggered by certain skin conditions such as eczema, exposure to poison ivy or poison oak, allergic reactions or insect bites. It is important to carefully follow the instructions given by the doctor or the packaging details for proper usage in order to reduce the likelihood of experiencing the unwanted side effects.
Itchiness and burning sensation
Even though hydrocortisone ointment has been used in treating itchiness or pruritus, it can also cause itching. Take note that this reaction most often occurs from hypersensitivity to the ointment and develops as a rash known as allergic contact dermatitis. If the individual experiences itchiness or worsening of the rash, he/she should discontinue using hydrocortisone since he/she might be allergic to it. The burning of the site where the ointment was applied can also occur but this is usually temporary.
Discoloration of the skin
The prolonged and regular use of hydrocortisone ointment can trigger changes in the skin color due to hypopigmentation or telangiectasia. Take note that the hypopigmentation involves the waning of the skin while telangiectasia is the long-lasting dilation or broadening of the capillaries which leads to the reddened blotchy spots on the skin.
Take note that these discolorations typically occur around the area that was treated with hydrocortisone ointment. In order to reduce the risk, you have to apply the ointment sparingly and avoid covering the area. It is also important to limit the application to the affected areas only. Once the medication is discontinued, the skin color will return to normal.
Atrophy of the skin
Hydrocortisone ointment can also trigger skin atrophy or thinning out of the skin. Heavy application of ointment, frequent usage as well as covering the site of application will increase the risk for the manifestation of the side effects. If the site is covered, it can cause the skin to soften due to the excessive moisture. You can reduce the risk for skin atrophy by applying only a thin layer to the affected areas.
Secondary skin infections
Hydrocortisone ointment will reduce the response of the immune system. This will increase the risk for developing infections. Take note that skin atrophy as well as the softening of the skin can affect the integrity of the skin and suitable environments for the development of bacterial or fungal skin infections. Additionally, if hydrocortisone cream is applied to a oozing or weeping rash or broken skin, the risk for developing infection increases. Secondary infections are usually minor and can be managed with antibiotic or antifungal medications. Nevertheless, the individual can reduce the risk by keeping the area being treated dry and clean all the time. If you want to learn more about this condition, click here.