Betamethasone cream is a topical corticosteroid that is used to treat swelling, redness and itching associated with a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, contact dermatitis and plaque psoriasis. It also can be used to treat these symptoms when they are caused by an allergic reaction on the skin. Betamethasone cream usually is prescribed by a doctor when over-the-counter treatments for a skin problem have been ineffective, and the cream normally is meant to be used once or twice daily for a maximum of two weeks. This cream can have some side effects that are generally considered to be mild, but severe allergic reactions can occur in some cases. As with other medications, a doctor should always evaluate whether a patient should use betamethasone cream, to avoid drug interactions and exacerbation of any existing health problems.
Skin problems such as eczema, contact dermatitis, plaque psoriasis and allergies cause the adrenal gland to produce cortisol. Betamethasone cream is a powerful anti-inflammatory that works by suppressing the release of cortisol, thus minimizing the accompanying symptoms such as itching, swelling and redness. This medication is meant to be used only on the skin, unlike other steroids that can come in pill form to be taken orally or as a liquid for intravenous injection.
Unlike some medications that are meant to be used for recurring skin conditions, betamethasone cream usually is prescribed for a short period of time to treat symptoms. In general, a patient uses the cream once or twice a day for a maximum period of two weeks, although a doctor’s instructions might differ according to individual cases. In most instances, it should be applied in a thin layer only to the affected area, to avoid absorbing too much of the medication.
Some side effects have been reported during use of betamethasone, but they generally are considered to be mild and include temporary burning, stinging and dry skin. In more rare cases, prolonged use of the medication can make patients more susceptible to infection because it suppresses the immune system. Also rare are side effects associated with the use of other steroid medications. These include weight gain, shifting of weight to different parts of the body and psychiatric effects. People who are allergic to betamethasone cream might experience hives, severe itching and swelling, and a variety of other problems that often require prompt medical attention.
Betamethasone cream is used topically, so interactions with other drugs are somewhat uncommon. It usually is a good idea, however, for one to speak with a doctor about all other medications that are currently being taken. Also, patients should let a doctor know about any preexisting health conditions that might be affected by using this medicine.