References: 1. Bikowski J, Pillai R, Shroot B. The position not the presence of the halogen in corticosteroids influences potency and side effects. J Drugs Dermatol . 2006;5(2):125-130. 2. Del Rosso J, Friedlander SF. Corticosteroids: options in the era of steroid-sparing therapy. J Am Acad Dermatol . 2005; 53(1 Suppl 1):s50-s58. 3. US Food and Drug Administration NDA 017765. Promius Pharma, LLC, Princeton, NJ: Aug 1977. 4. Rosenthal AL. Clocortolone pivalate: a paired comparison clinical trial of a new topical steroid in eczema/atopic dermatitis. Cutis . 1980;25(1):96-98. 5. Kircik LH. A study to assess the occlusivity and moisturization potential of three topical corticosteroid products using the skin trauma after razor shaving (STARS) bioassay. J Drugs Dermatol . 2014;13(5):582-585. 6. Cloderm [package insert]. Princeton, NJ: Promius Pharma, LLC; 2017.
Hydrocortisone is classed as a mild topical corticosteroid. Topical corticosteroids are also referred to as topical steroids . Topical steroids are used in addition to moisturisers (emollients) for treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis . A topical steroid can be used to relieve the symptoms when patches of eczema or dermatitis flare up. Hydrocortisone is also useful in reducing inflammation due insect bites and stings . A doctor may also prescribe hydrocortisone to treat nappy rash in a baby or infant.
You can buy some topical corticosteroids "over-the-counter" without a prescription. For example, for dermatitis, you can buy the steroid cream called hydrocortisone 1% from your pharmacy. Do not apply this to your face unless your doctor has told you to do so. This is because it may trigger a skin condition affecting the face ( acne or rosacea. ) Long-term use may also damage the skin. On your face this would be more noticeable than the rest of your body. So usually only weak steroids are used on the face. Those which are suitable are prescription-only.