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Table of Contents > Drugs >  Hydrocortisone
Brand Names
Foreign Brand Names
Therapeutic Categories
Reasons not to take this medicine
What is this medicine used for?
How does it work?
How is it best taken?
What do I do if I miss a dose?
What are the precautions when taking this medicine?
What are the common side effects of this medicine?
What should I monitor?
Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately
How should I store this medicine?
General statements

(hye droe KOR ti sone)

Brand Names
A-hydroCort®; Ala-Cort®; Ala-Scalp®; Anucort-HC® Suppository; Anusol® HC 1 [OTC]; Anusol® HC 2.5% [OTC]; Anusol-HC® Suppository; Cetacort®; Clocort® Maximum Strength; Cortaid® Maximum Strength [OTC]; Cortaid® With Aloe [OTC]; Cort-Dome®; Cortef®; Cortef® Feminine Itch; Cortenema®; Corticaine®; Cortifoam®; Cortizone®-5 [OTC]; Cortizone®-10 [OTC]; Delcort®; Dermacort®; DermiCort®; Dermolate®[OTC]; Dermtex® HC With Aloe; Eldecort®; Gynecort®[OTC]; Hemril-HC® Uniserts®; Hi-Cor® 1.0; Hi-Cor® 2.5; Hycort®; Hydrocort®; Hydrocortone® Acetate; Hydrocortone® Phosphate; HydroTex®[OTC]; Hytone®; LactiCare-HC®; Lanacort®[OTC]; Locoid®; Nutracort®; Orabase® HCA; Pandel®; Penecort®; Procort®[OTC]; Proctocort™; Scalpicin®; Solu-Cortef®; S-T Cort®; Synacort®; Tegrin®-HC [OTC]; Texacort®; Westcort®

Foreign Brand Names
Flebocortid [Sodium Succinate] (Mexico); Nositrol [Sodium Succinate] (Mexico)

Therapeutic Categories
Corticosteroid, Oral; Corticosteroid, Parenteral; Corticosteroid, Rectal; Corticosteroid, Topical

Reasons not to take this medicine

  • If you have an allergy to hydrocortisone or any other part of the medicine.
  • If you have any of the following conditions: Serious infection; viral, fungal, or tubercular skin infection.

What is this medicine used for?

  • This medicine is used for the treatment of inflamed areas of the body, severe allergies, skin problems, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, organ transplantation, leukemias/lymphomas, brain swelling, ulcerative colitis, sarcoidosis, spinal cord injuries, Addison's disease, and arthritis.
  • This medicine is used in other diseases where the anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant properties are needed. Talk with healthcare provider.
  • The rectal forms are used to treat symptoms from hemorrhoids or rectal itching or irritation.

How does it work?

  • Hydrocortisone is a man-made form of an important chemical produced in the body.
  • Hydrocortisone puts down the body's response to the allergen (the cause of the allergy) and reduces swelling, redness, itching, and other symptoms of allergy.
  • It also reduces the body's ability to fight infection.

How is it best taken?

  • Oral:
    • Take tablet with food. Take in the morning if you are taking this medicine once a day.
    • A liquid (suspension) is available if you cannot swallow pills. Those who have feeding tubes can also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after medicine is given. Shake well first.
    • Do not suddenly stop using this medicine if you have been taking it for a long time. Medicine should be slowly decreased.
  • Rectal:
    • Use the suppository, rectal cream, or foam rectally only.
  • Skin:
    • Do not take by mouth. For skin only. Keep out of mouth, nose, and eyes (may burn).
    • Wash your hands before and after use.
    • Clean affected area before use.
    • Use a small amount over the affected area as a light film. Rub in gently.
    • Do not put coverings (bandages, dressings, make-up) over the area unless told to do so by healthcare provider.
    • If you are using this medicine in the groin area, use for 2 weeks only. Use a small amount. Do not wear tight clothing.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as possible.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed one. Return to your regular schedule.
  • Do not take a double dose or extra doses.
  • Do not change dose or stop taking medicine without talking with healthcare provider.

What are the precautions when taking this medicine?

  • Oral:
    • Wear disease medical alert identification if you have asthma, lung disease, or are an allergy sufferer or if you are going to be on this medicine longer than 3-4 weeks.
    • Unless healthcare provider told you to stop, it is dangerous to run out of this medication. Get it refilled today!
    • Avoid alcohol (includes wine, beer, and liquor). Alcohol increases risk of stomach irritation/ulcers.
    • If you have had a stomach ulcer or bleeding, tell healthcare provider. Can cause ulcers.
    • You can get sunburned more easily. Avoid lots of sun. Use sunscreen; wear protective clothing and eyewear.
    • Use caution if you have a weakened heart. Salt and water can accumulate. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Use caution if you are diabetic. Diabetic medicine may need increasing. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Use caution if you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure may increase. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other healthcare providers about this medicine.
    • Tell healthcare provider if currently being treated for any infections.
  • All forms:
    • Tell healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Make sure to tell about the allergy and how it affected you. This includes telling about rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, throat; or any other symptoms involved.
    • Tell healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.
    • Tell healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding.

What are the common side effects of this medicine?

  • Oral:
    • Risk of infection. Avoid crowds and people with infections, colds, or flu.
    • High blood sugar. Medicine can cause diabetes mellitus, usually reverses when stopped.
    • For women, menstrual changes (premenopausal: may not have period, postmenopausal: bleeding/spotting).
    • Weakened bones. Take calcium and vitamin D as recommended by healthcare provider.
    • Weight gain (because of salt and water gain or because of hunger and eating more).
    • Muscle weakness, especially in the thighs and upper arms.
    • Skin changes (pimples, stretch marks, slow healing if cut, hair growth).
    • Cataracts, glaucoma with long-term use.
    • Changes in fat distribution. Fat stores can move to your face and back.
    • Belly pain and cramps.
    • Nausea or vomiting. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking hard candy, or chewing gum may help.
  • Rectal and skin:
    • Burning, itching, and irritation.

What should I monitor?

  • If a child is using this medicine, monitor growth carefully.
  • Watch for swelling of legs or belly, shortness of breath, weight gain, exercise tolerance. If any of these worsen, talk with healthcare provider.
  • Report a 3-5 pound weight gain.
  • Check blood sugar as ordered by healthcare provider.
  • Watch for high blood sugar. Causes many trips to the bathroom, thirst, and weight loss.
  • Signs of infection.

Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately

  • Oral:
    • Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; tightness in the chest; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
    • Any signs or symptoms of infection. This may include a fever greater than 99 degrees, chills, sore throat, cough, increased sputum or change in color, painful urination, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, anal itching or pain.
    • For females, vaginal discharge and/or itching.
    • Chest pains, fast heartbeats, shortness of breath, or decreased ability to walk.
    • Severe nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
    • Menstrual changes. This includes lots of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between cycles.
    • Feeling weak, tired, irritable, trembling, having rapid heartbeats, confusion, sweating, dizzy, especially if you missed a dose or recently stopped this medicine.
    • Any rash.
    • No improvement in condition or feeling worse.
  • Rectal:
    • No improvement in 1 week.
    • Bleeding from rectum or pain.
  • Skin:
    • Any signs of infection.
    • Severe redness, itching, or pain.
    • No improvement in condition or feeling worse.

How should I store this medicine?

  • Store in a tight container at room temperature.

General statements

  • Do not share your medicine with others and do not take anyone else's medicine.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep a list of all your medicines (prescription, herbal/supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter) with you. Give this list to healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physician assistant).
  • Talk with healthcare provider before starting any new medicine, including over-the-counter or natural products (herbs, vitamins).

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  Substances depleted by this drug
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  Interactions with supplements

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