This page contains brief details about the drug , it's indication, dosage & administaration, mechanism of action, related brands with strength, warnings and common side effects.

Background and Date of Approval

Hydrocortisone has been used topically for many years and was first approved by the FDA in the 1950s. Since then, various hydrocortisone creams and ointments have been approved for over-the-counter and prescription use. The FDA approval date for hydrocortisone cream and ointment formulations for topical use may vary depending on the product and manufacturer.

Mechanism of Action of undefined

Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid hormone (naturally occurring hormone cortisol) produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisol plays an important role in regulating inflammation and immune function. When there is an injury or infection, the body responds by increasing inflammation and immune activity to help fight off the threat. However, the inflammatory response can sometimes become excessive or misguided, leading to tissue damage or autoimmune disorders. This medication works by binding to specific receptors in the body and inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals and immune cells, thus reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune response. This can relieve pain, swelling, and redness and help prevent tissue damage and further complications.

Uses of undefined

Hydrocortisone is a medication used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It can also be used to manage symptoms of allergic reactions, such as itching, swelling, and redness. It can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the airways for individuals with asthma, making breathing easier. This medication is also used to reduce inflammation and pain in joints affected by arthritis and to suppress the immune system in certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In individuals with adrenal insufficiency, it can be used to replace low levels of cortisol.

undefined Drug administaration and Dosage available

For topical hydrocortisone cream or ointment, apply a thin layer to the affected area, typically 2-3 times daily. For oral tablets, the dosage and frequency of administration will be determined by the healthcare professional. Oral hydrocortisone tablets are taken with food to minimize gastrointestinal side effects. For injectables, hydrocortisone is given as an intravenous or intramuscular injection by a healthcare professional. If you miss a dose, taking or applying it as soon as you remember is important. However, if it is close to the time for your next dose, it is best to skip the missed dose and resume your regular schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one.

Warnings, Precautions and Side Effects of undefined


Hydrocortisone can suppress the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections. Long-term use can suppress the function of the adrenal glands, which produce important hormones that regulate various bodily functions, and increase the risk of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle. Some people may experience allergic reactions to hydrocortisone. If you experience symptoms such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.


Hydrocortisone is a prescription medication that should only be used by the person for whom it was prescribed. Do not share your medication with others, even if they have similar symptoms. If you develop a fever or other signs of infection while taking hydrocortisone, contact your healthcare professional immediately. Avoid vaccination during the treatment with this medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any fungal infections before taking medicine. It is important to inform your allergic conditions and diseases to your doctor before taking this medication.  Avoid exposure to people who have chickenpox, measles, or shingles during the treatment. Consult your doctor if you experience mental health problems while taking medicine. This medicine contains lactose. Ask for a doctor’s advice if you are intolerant to sugars.

Side Effects

Like any medication, it can cause side effects. Some of the common side effects of hydrocortisone include increased appetite and weight gain, fluid retention and swelling in the face and limbs, elevated blood pressure, mood changes such as irritability or anxiety, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, acne or other skin reactions, increased susceptibility to infections, and muscle weakness or wasting. These side effects are typically mild and may subside with continued medication use. However, some more serious side effects of hydrocortisone may occur, such as allergic reactions, severe mood changes such as depression or psychosis, high blood sugar levels, peptic ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding, osteoporosis or increased risk of fractures, glaucoma or cataracts, and adrenal suppression or failure.

Word Of Advice

Hydrocortisone is a prescription medication that should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. Do not share your medication with others, and do not use it for any condition other than the one for which it was prescribed. Refrain from taking more or less medication than prescribed, and continue consulting with your healthcare professional.

Inform your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any side effects or have any safety concerns, particularly if you have a history of liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or other medical conditions. They may need to adjust your dose or recommend an alternative treatment to ensure your safety and optimize treatment outcomes. If you have questions or concerns about using this medication, speak with your healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Question


  1. KD Tripathi, Essentials of Medical Pharmacology, Corticosteroids, 7th edition, 2013,282 - 293.
  2. Goodman & Gilman’s, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, ACTH, Adrenal Steroids and Pharmacology of the Adrenal Cortex,12th edition, 2011, 1228-1229.
  3. Focus Pharmaceuticals Limited, Electronic medicines compendium (EMC), [ Revised on May 2019] [ Accessed on 13 April 20203],
  4. Pfizer, US Food and Drug Administration, [ Revised on Nov 2019] [ Accessed on 13th April 2023],


The drug information on this page is not a substitute for medical advice. It is meant for educational purposes only. For further details, consult your doctor about your medical condition to know if you can receive this treatment.