Clobetasone (also known as clobetasone butyrate) is a steroid medicine used on the skin to treat swelling, itching and irritation.
It can help with skin problems such as:
It may also be used to help keep your condition under control between courses of a stronger steroid. This is known as maintenance therapy.
Steroids (or corticosteroids) are copies of hormones your body makes naturally. They are not the same as anabolic steroids.
Clobetasone comes as cream or ointment. It's available on prescription or you can buy it from a pharmacy or shop.
There is also a cream called clobetasol, which sounds similar to clobetasone. This is a much stronger steroid cream and is only available on prescription.
Sometimes clobetasone is combined with the antibiotic oxytetracycline and the antifungal nystatin. This is called by the brand name Trimovate.
Who can use clobetasone
Most adults and children aged 12 years and over can use clobetasone.
Who may not be able to use clobetasone
Do not use clobetasone on children under 12 years unless their doctor has prescribed it.
Clobetasone may not be suitable for some people. To make sure it's safe for you, tell your pharmacist or doctor before using it if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to clobetasone, cetostearyl alcohol or chlorocresol (ingredients in the cream)
- have ever had an allergic reaction to any other medicine
- have a skin infection, broken skin or cuts, or itchy skin that is not inflamed or red – using clobetasone can make a skin infection worse or cause it to spread
- have acne or rosacea
Dosage and strength
Clobetasone comes in a strength of 0.05%, and contains 5mg of clobetasone butyrate in each 10g of cream and ointment.
Most people only need to use clobetasone 1 or 2 times a day for a week. If your doctor has prescribed it, they may suggest that you use it for longer than a week.
How to use it
If you use clobetasone 2 times a day, try to leave a gap of 8 to 12 hours between each use.
How to apply cream or ointment
Clobetasone cream is better for skin that is moist or weepy. Ointment is thicker and greasier and is better for dry or flaky areas of skin.
Sometimes, the amount of cream or ointment you need to use is measured in fingertip units. This is the amount of cream or ointment you can squeeze onto your fingertip.
A fingertip unit of cream should be enough to treat an area of skin that is double the size of the palm of your hand.
For babies and children, the right amount of cream depends on their age. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you.
A fingertip unit of cream
- Wash and dry your hands and then squeeze out the right amount.
- Spread the cream or ointment in a thin layer over the area of irritated skin.
- Carefully smooth it into your skin in the direction that your hair grows until it disappears.
- Use the cream or ointment on all the irritated skin, not just the worst areas.
- Be careful not to get it into broken skin or cuts.
- Wash your hands afterwards (unless it's your hands that you're treating).
Do not use clobetasone at the same time as other creams or ointments such as a moisturiser. Wait at least 30 minutes between using clobetasone and any other product.
If you need to use a dressing like a bandage or plaster, wait at least 10 minutes after putting clobetasone on.
When using clobetasone on babies with nappy rash, do not put the nappy on straight away. This helps to prevent side effects from the clobetasone.
Skin creams and ointments can dry onto your clothes and bedding. This makes them more likely to catch fire. Avoid naked flames.
How long you use clobetasone for depends on why you're using it.
For insect bites and stings, nappy rash or contact dermatitis you'll probably only need to use clobetasone for up to a week.
For long-term skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, you may need to use clobetasone for longer under the supervision of your doctor.
If you have been using clobetasone on your child (12 years and under) for 7 days with no improvement, speak to their doctor.
To reduce the risk of side effects, your doctor may recommend using clobetasone for only a few weeks at a time. Once your skin is better, use moisturisers to help stop skin inflammation from coming back.
Your doctor may recommend using clobetasone in between courses of stronger steroids. This is known as maintenance therapy and can keep your condition under control and reduce the risk of side effects.
If you've been using clobetasone for a long time you may need to slowly reduce the amount you use and how often you use it before stopping completely. This helps to stop your symptoms from coming back.
Talk to you doctor if you want to stop treatment after using clobetasone for a long time.
If you forget to use it
If you forget to use either the cream or ointment, use it as soon as you remember, unless it's within a few hours of your next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal routine.
If you use it twice a day, try to leave a gap of 8 to 12 hours in between.
Common side effects
Some people get a burning or stinging feeling for a few minutes when they put clobetasone cream or ointment on their skin. This usually stops after you've been using it for a few days.
Clobetasone cream contains cetostearyl alcohol and chlorocresol, which may cause local skin reactions or allergic reactions.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen to less than 1 in 10,000 people who use clobetasone.
Stop using clobetasone and tell your doctor or contact 111 straight away if:
- your skin becomes swollen or red (this may be less obvious on brown or black skin), you get white patches on your skin or yellow fluid is weeping from your skin – these could be signs of a new skin infection or an existing one getting worse
- you are using clobetasone for psoriasis and you get raised bumps filled with pus (pustules) under the skin
- you have vomiting, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, you feel dizzy, faint or very tired, or your mood changes – these can be signs of adrenal gland problems
- you feel confused, sleepy, more thirsty or more hungry than usual, you pee more often, have hot flushes or your breath smells of fruit – these can be signs of high blood sugar
- you have any new problems with your eyesight
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to clobetasone.
You're more likely to have a serious side effect if you use clobetasone over a large patch of skin for a long time.
Using clobetasone for a long time can make your skin thinner or give you stretch marks. Stretch marks are likely to be permanent, but they usually fade over time.
Children and teenagers
In very rare cases, using clobetasone for a long time can slow down the normal growth of children and teenagers. This is because it is a steroid.
Your child's doctor will monitor their height and weight carefully while they are using this medicine. This will help them spot any slowing down of your child's growth and change their treatment if needed.
Even if your child's growth slows down, it does not seem to have much effect on their eventual adult height.
Talk to your doctor if you're worried. They will be able to explain the benefits and risks of your child using clobetasone.
Other side effects
These are not all the side effects of clobetasone. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
Clobetasone and pregnancy
Clobetasone can be used during pregnancy.
Since it's applied to the skin, very little of the medicine gets into your bloodstream and almost none gets to your baby. Even if a small amount does get to your baby, it will not harm them.
Clobetasone and breastfeeding
Clobetasone can be used during breastfeeding. It is not known how much passes into breast milk but it's likely to be a tiny amount.
Try to use it on as small an area as possible, taking care that your baby does not touch any areas of your body where you've used clobetasone.
If you're using clobetasone on your chest, make sure to wash it off your breasts, nipples and hands before feeding your baby.
It's usually better to use cream rather than ointment when breastfeeding, as it's easier to wash off.
Clobetasone and fertility
There's no evidence to suggest that using clobetasone reduces fertility in either men or women.
Cautions with other medicines
It's very unlikely that other medicines will affect the way clobetasone works. This applies to prescription medicines as well as the ones you buy from a pharmacy or shop.
However, tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking:
- ritonavir (for HIV infection)
- itraconazole (for a fungal infection)
These medicines can increase the chances of side effects in the rest of your body.
Mixing clobetasone with herbal remedies and supplements
There's not enough information to say whether complementary medicines, herbal remedies and supplements are safe to take with clobetasone. They're not tested in the same way as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They're generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines.
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