Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid, and hydrocortisone cream is a topical corticosteroid preparation available with or without a prescription. By prescription (USP 2.5%) it is used to treat itching, redness, dryness, crusting, scaling, inflammation and discomfort of various skin conditions. Low-strength formulations (0.5% or 1%) are used without a prescription for the temporary relief of minor skin irritations including itching, and rashes caused by eczema, insect bites, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, soaps, detergents, cosmetics and jewelry; and itching and irritation of the scalp.
Hydrocortisone comes in over 50 brand name ointments, creams, lotions, liquid, gels, medicated cloth towelettes and sprays for use on the skin. It is also available in dozens of combination products for a variety of medical conditions.
Side effects can include itching, burning and acne. More severe side effects include severe skin rash, difficulty breathing, wheezing, and skin infections such as redness and/or swelling – if you experience these symptoms contact your doctor immediately.