Corticosteroids are medicines used for reducing inflammation. Inflammation of the skin happens as a result of allergy or irritation of the skin, and is caused by the release of various substances that are important in the immune system. These substances cause blood vessels to widen and result in the irritated area becoming red, swollen, itchy and painful, such as is seen in dermatitis or eczema.
When betamethasone is applied to the skin it works by acting inside the cells to decrease the release of these inflammatory substances. This reduces swelling, redness and itch.
There is a range of potencies of corticosteroids available for application to the skin. Betnovate cream, ointment and lotion contain betamethasone valerate 0.1% and are classed as potent corticosteroids. They are prescribed to treat various inflammatory skin disorders, such as eczema and dermatitis, that have not responded to milder steroids.
Betnovate cream is more suitable for moist, weeping areas of skin, while the thicker, more greasy ointment is more suitable for dry, scaly areas of skin. Betnovate lotion spreads easily and is more suitable for hairy areas of skin, or when minimal application to a large area of skin is needed.
Betnovate cream, ointment and lotion are used to treat a variety of inflammatory, allergic or itchy skin disorders, such as those listed below, when milder corticosteroids have not been effective.
- Eczema of various types.
- Skin inflammation due to allergies or irritants (allergic contact dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis).
- Inflammatory skin condition with greasy, red and scaly areas (seborrhoeic dermatitis).
- Thickened skin rash caused by excessive scratching to relieve itching (neurodermatitis, eg lichen simplex).
- An eruption of hard nodules in the skin accompanied by intense itching (prurigo nodularis).
- Skin disorder causing a flat, itchy, violet rash, usually on the wrists, shins, lower back and genitals (lichen planus).
- Inflammatory skin disease known as discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE).
- Intense and widespread reddening of the skin (generalised erythroderma) in combination with oral or injected corticosteroids.
- Reactions to insect bites and stings.
- Betnovate cream, ointment or lotion should be applied thinly to the affected areas of skin once or twice a day to start with. As soon as the condition starts to improve, you should use it less frequently, as directed by your doctor. Click here to see how much cream or ointment to use.
- If your doctor has advised you to use dressings with this medicine, the skin should be cleansed before applying the cream, ointment or lotion under a fresh dressing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after applying this medicine, unless the hands are the area being treated.
- Betnovate should not be used for longer than four weeks at a time. However, if you are applying this medicine to the face or to a child's skin, it should preferably not be used for longer than five days at a time. If your skin condition has not improved after two to four weeks of treatment you should consult your doctor. Repeat courses maybe necessary to control flare-ups of your skin condition, but should only be started on the advice of your doctor.
- Don't use this medicine more often or for longer than advised by your doctor.
- Don't apply your moisturisers to the same area of skin at the same time as this medicine. Try to leave at least 30 minutes between applying moisturisers and this medicine, as otherwise the moisturiser could dilute the corticosteroid and potentially make it less effective.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Skin irritation, eg redness, rash, itching or burning on application, or allergic inflammation of the skin (contact dermatitis). Stop using this medicine and consult your doctor if you think you have experienced a reaction or your skin condition appears to be getting worse.
- Spread or worsening of untreated infections.
- Thinning of the skin.
- Reduced skin pigmentation.
- Stretch marks (striae).
- Groupings of fine blood vessels becoming prominent under the skin (telangiectasia).
- Excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis).
- Prolonged use of this medicine on extensive areas of skin, broken or raw skin, skin folds or underneath airtight dressings may on very rare occasions result in enough corticosteroid being absorbed to have side effects on other parts of the body, for example a decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands, or symptoms of Cushing's syndrome - see warning section above.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
- Betnovate cream, ointment and lotion are for external use on the affected areas of skin only.
- You should never use Betnovate as a moisturiser.
- Avoid getting this medicine in the eyes, or inside the mouth or nose. Rinse with cold water if accidental contact occurs.
- If corticosteroids are used long-term, on large areas of skin, raw or broken skin, skin folds, or under airtight dressings they are absorbed into the body more. This increases the risk of local side effects such as skin thinning, and those on other parts of the body, such as a decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands. For this reason, continuous, long-term use of this medicine should be avoided wherever possible, particularly in children and on large areas of skin. You should only use airtight dressings over the affected area if instructed by your doctor. If there is no improvement in your skin after two to four weeks of treatment you should consult your doctor.
- If this medicine is used on the face, wherever possible it should not be used for longer than five days. You should not use airtight dressings to cover the area treated.
- If used in children, wherever possible this medicine should not be used for longer than five days, or on the face. You should not use airtight dressings to cover the area treated. Be aware that children's nappies can also act as an airtight dressing and can increase the absorption of the medicine. Children being treated with this medicine should be reviewed by the doctor at least once a week.
- If you think the area of skin you are treating has become infected you should stop using this medicine and consult your doctor.
Use with caution in
- Children (see above).
- Psoriasis. If you have been prescribed this medicine to treat psoriasis you should have regular check-ups with your doctor. This is because although corticosteroids may be useful for psoriasis in the short-term, they can sometimes make psoriasis worse, and may cause the condition to relapse into generalised pustular psoriasis after the treatment is stopped.
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