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Hydrocortisone acetate topical

Updated 2 Feb 2023 | Mild topical corticosteroids


Topical formulations containing hydrocortisone acetate

Drugs List

  • HC45 1% cream
  • hydrocortisone acetate 1% cream
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Dermatitis - contact
    Insect bites



    To be applied sparingly over a small area once or twice a day for a maximum period of 7 days.

    If no improvement is seen after 7 days consult a physician.


    To be applied sparingly over a small area once or twice a day for a maximum period of 7 days.

    If no improvement is seen after 7 days consult a physician.


    Children aged 10 and over
    To be applied sparingly over a small area once or twice a day for a maximum period of 7 days.

    If no improvement is seen after 7 days consult a physician.

    Children under 10 years Not recommended except under medical supervision.


    None known

    Precautions and Warnings

    Children under 10 years

    Avoid contact with eyes
    Avoid occlusive dressings
    Do not apply to ano-genital areas
    Do not apply to broken or denuded skin
    Not to be applied to infected skin
    Not to be applied to the face
    Occlusive dressings can increase the likelihood of systemic absorption
    Long term use may cause adrenal suppression
    Discontinue if condition worsens
    Discontinue if hypersensitivity reactions occur
    Maximum treatment 7 days unless on doctor's advice
    Advise patient residue on clothing/bedding may cause fire hazard
    Contact doctor if no improvement occurs
    Fire hazard: Keep away from naked flames and potential sources of ignition
    Nappy may act as an occlusive dressing

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Use topical hydrocortisone acetate with caution during pregnancy.

    Topical application of corticosteroids to pregnant animals can cause abnormalities of foetal development including cleft palate and intrauterine growth retardation. There may therefore be a very small risk of such effects in the human foetus but the relevance of this study has not been established in humans. Nevertheless, topical corticosteroids with the exception of very potent steroids can be used relatively safely in pregnancy.

    It is recommended to avoid using large amounts and for long periods of time if possible.

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14-17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).


    No information is available, at the time of writing, on the use of topical hydrocortisone acetate during breastfeeding.

    Corticosteroids generally appear only in low levels in human breast milk and the levels achieved from systemic absorption of topical applications are likely to be minimal.

    If applied to the breast area, the area should be washed and dried prior to breastfeeding and the preparation applied afterwards.

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at

    Side Effects

    Acne (at application site)
    Contact dermatitis
    Exacerbation of infection
    Hypersensitivity reactions
    Mild depigmentation and vellus hair
    Striae (irreversible)
    Thinning of skin


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: May 2013

    Reference Sources

    British National Formulary, 65th Edition (March - September 2013) Pharmaceutical Press, London.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream. Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Ltd. Revised September 2012.
    Summary of Product Characteristics: Lanacort ointment. Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Ltd. Revised August 2011.

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