It is important to note that hydrocortisone ointment has been considered as a safe steroid to use that is readily available over-the-counter or the doctor will prescribe a stronger drug. Always bear in mind that hydrocortisone ointment must be utilized to manage the itchy rashes activated by certain skin issues such as eczema, allergic reactions, insect bites or exposure to poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac.
It is important to follow the instructions in the packaging or the directions given by the doctor to reduce the risk of developing the unwanted side effects. Once these side effects occur, the individual should stop using the ointment. If you want to learn more about hydrocortisone ointment, read here.
Itchiness and burning sensation
Even though hydrocortisone ointment is utilized in treating the itchiness, it can also trigger itchiness. The reaction often occurs due to hypersensitivity to the ointment and manifests as a rash that is known as allergic contact dermatitis.
If the individual experiences itchiness or the rash worsens, he/she should discontinue the use of the ointment since he/she might be allergic to it. In some cases, burning sensation can be felt at the site where the ointment was applied but this reaction is usually temporary.
Discoloration of the skin
The regular and prolonged use of hydrocortisone ointment can cause the skin to lose or change color due to hypopigmentation or telangiectasia. Take note that hypopigmentation involves the fading of the skin while telangiectasia is the chronic widening of the capillaries which results to the red-colored blotchy spots on the skin.
Take note that these discolorations typically manifest around the area where hydrocortisone ointment was applied. You can reduce the risk by applying the ointment thinly and avoid covering the affected area. It is also recommended to limit the application to the affected areas only. The normal skin color is restored once the ointment is no longer used.
Atrophy of the skin
Hydrocortisone ointment can also lead to the atrophy of the skin or thinning. The heavy use of the ointment or overuse and covering the affected area will increase the risk for this side effect. If the affected site is covered, it can cause the skin to soften due to the excess moisture. The risk for skin atrophy can be reduced by applying only a thin layer of the ointment on the affected areas.
Development of secondary skin infections
Always bear in mind that hydrocortisone ointment will lower down the response of the immune system, thus increasing the risk for developing infections. The softening and atrophy of the skin will affect its integrity, thus providing the ideal site for the development of secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
Additionally, if hydrocortisone ointment is applied over an oozing or weeping rash, the risk for infection increases. Take note that secondary skin infections are typically minor and can be managed with antibiotic or fungal drugs. Nevertheless, the risk can be reduced by keeping the affected area dry and clean at all times.