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In order to treat a rash with hydrocortisone, the medication usually must be applied topically several times each day. It is a low-potency, anti-inflammatory drug from the steroid class of treatments. The medication comes in prescription and over-the-counter versions and can be used in several forms, including creams, sprays, and gels. It is applied to the skin several times a day until the rash goes away. The drug also helps to relieve itchy skin.
There are several forms of application that can be used to treat a rash with hydrocortisone. The drug comes in an ointment, cream, lotion, gel, or liquid. It can also be applied via a spray or a towelette that has been soaked in the medication. A typical prescription or over-the-counter product will require that the drug be applied at least four times a day for full effectiveness. It may not be safe to put other products, such as cosmetics, on an area that has been treated with hydrocortisone.
Before an application of topical hydrocortisone, the portion of skin to be treated must be well rinsed. After the product has been gently rubbed into the moist skin, the treated area is usually covered with lightly secured plastic wrap, with a portion left open or punctured so that air can reach the skin. The plastic is then covered with a bandage, gauze, or medical tape both so that the medication can sink into the skin and so that it will not rub off. The entire dressing should be changed with each new application of the drug, and should not be left on the treated area longer than 12 hours.
Some parts of the body do not react well to treatment of a rash with hydrocortisone. It can harm skin on the face and in the genital and armpit areas if used for too long. The drug should also be kept away from the eyes.
The mild side effects of products made to treat a rash with hydrocortisone include acne, burning, itching, and drying or cracking skin. These symptoms only need to be discussed with a doctor if they become more serious or do not eventually go away. More severe side effects of hydrocortisone include a severe rash, wheezing, or breathing difficulties. Some patients may also get a skin infection, which is indicated by oozing pus, redness, and swelling. These serious effects should be reported to a doctor immediately.