Hydrocortisone Topical

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is hydrocortisone topical?

Hydrocortisone is a low potency topical steroid used to treat inflammatory conditions or itchiness.

How is hydrocortisone given?

Hydrocortisone is administered topically in the form of a cream, shampoo, spray, wipe, ointment, lotion, gel, foam, or solution. Depending on the type of product that your veterinarian prescribes for your pet, application instructions will vary. Follow the specific directions that your veterinarian provides to you.

Wash your hands after administering or use gloves when applying products with hydrocortisone. Avoid contact with your pet’s eyes. Prevent your pet from licking or chewing the area of application for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

This medication should begin working within 1 to 2 hours after administration.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule.

Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Possible side effects include a skin reaction at the site of application, and with long-term use, effects such as fragile skin, small skin bumps, and blackheads may occur. Hormone suppression may also occur, but is rare.

The effects of this medication may last for a few days, even after the medication has been discontinued.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Hydrocortisone topical should not be used in pregnant pets and those with skin tuberculosis.  

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Hydrocortisone topical should not be used within two weeks of skin or blood allergy testing.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store hydrocortisone topical?

Depending on the product that your veterinarian prescribes for your pet, storage directions vary. Follow the directions on the bottle or those provided to you by your veterinarian.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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