Health Question

Why can't hydrocortisone cream be used on the face?

Hydrocortisone is a steroid that's sometimes used to treat inflammation.

You can buy hydrocortisone cream over the counter from a pharmacy for treating:

But it may not be sold for use on the delicate skin of the face. Long-term use of high-strength steroids can damage the skin, which would be particularly noticeable on the face.

Some common skin conditions that affect the face can be made worse by hydrocortisone, such as impetigo, rosacea and acne.

If you have a skin condition that affects your face, you should go to see your GP first, rather than treating it with hydrocortisone cream yourself.

Your GP can prescribe hydrocortisone for use on your face, having first assessed whether it's the correct treatment and if it's safe for you to use.

You should not use over-the-counter hydrocortisone preparations on your face, unless they're prescribed by a doctor. Pharmacists are not allowed to sell them for this purpose.

Consult your GP or pharmacist if you're unsure.

Further information