1. About beclometasone skin creams
Beclometasone cream and ointment are used to treat itching, swollen and irritated skin. They can help with conditions such as:
Beclometasone skin creams are available on prescription only. They are stronger than other skin creams such as hydrocortisone.
Beclometasone (sometimes written as "beclomethasone") is a type of medicine known as a steroid (also called a corticosteroid). This is not the same as an anabolic steroid.
It also comes as:
- beclometasone inhalers – for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- beclometasone nasal (nose) spray – for hay fever and cold-like symptoms caused by common allergies (rhinitis)
- beclometasone tablets – for ulcerative colitis
2. Key facts
- It's important to follow the instructions when using a steroid skin cream or ointment. This helps to avoid side effects.
- Only use a steroid skin treatment if your doctor prescribes it for you. Do not use someone else's medicine.
- Creams are better for skin that is moist or weepy. Ointments are thicker and greasier and better for dry or flaky skin.
- Beclometasone skin creams will not help with conditions such as acne or rosacea.
- Only use beclometasone on your face if your doctor says it's OK to.
3. Who can and cannot use beclometasone skin creams
Most adults can use beclometasone.
Children aged 1 year and older can use beclometasone cream. However, doctors may occasionally prescribe it for younger children.
Beclometasone may not be suitable for some people. Tell a pharmacist or doctor before using it if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to beclometasone or any other medicine in the past
- have broken skin, cuts, or itchy skin that is not inflamed or red
- have a skin infection – using beclometasone can make a skin infection worse or cause it to spread
- have an eye infection
- have acne or rosacea
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or you're breastfeeding
4. How and when to use beclometasone skin creams
Beclometasone is available as a cream and ointment.
Always follow the instructions from a pharmacist or doctor, or the leaflet that comes with your medicine.
You will usually use the cream or ointment once or twice a day. Use it on all the areas of your skin affected by the skin problem.
If you use it twice a day, try to leave a gap of 8 to 12 hours between doses.
How much to put on
The amount of cream or ointment you need to use is sometimes measured in fingertip units. This is the amount of cream or ointment you can squeeze onto the end of your finger.
As a general rule, a fingertip unit of cream is enough to treat an area that's twice the size of the palm of your hand.
For babies and children, the right amount of cream depends on their age. A doctor or pharmacist can advise you.
When the skin starts to get better, you may be able to reduce the amount of cream or ointment you use.
How to apply cream or ointment
- Wash your hands and then squeeze out the right amount.
- Spread the cream or ointment in a thin layer over the area of irritated skin.
- Carefully smooth it into your skin in the direction that your hair grows.
- Use the cream or ointment on all the irritated skin, not just the worst areas.
- Be careful not to get the cream or ointment into broken skin or cuts.
- Wash your hands afterwards (unless you are treating the skin on your hands).
Do not use beclometasone skin creams at the same time as any other creams or ointments, such as a moisturiser. Wait at least 30 minutes before using any other skin product after you put on beclometasone cream or ointment.
If you need to use a dressing, like a bandage or plaster, wait at least 10 minutes after putting on beclometasone.
If you're treating a child, do not cover the cream or ointment with dressings or bandages. Using a dressing or bandage can increase the chance of side effects.
Important: Fire warning
Skin creams can dry onto your clothes and bedding. This makes them more likely to catch fire. Avoid naked flames.
How long will I use it for?
Most people only need to use beclometasone cream or ointment for a short time. Stop using it as soon as your skin is better. Sometimes you only need to use the cream or ointment for a few days.
Children can use beclometasone skin creams for up to 5 days.
If your doctor says you can use beclometasone on your face, then it’s usually OK to use it for up to 5 days. Only use the cream or ointment for longer than 5 days if your doctor tells you to.
Tell your doctor if your skin gets worse or does not improve within 2 to 4 weeks (or 5 days for a child or when using it on your face).
What if I use too much?
Using too much beclometasone by accident is unlikely to harm you.
If you're worried, talk to a doctor or pharmacist.
What if I forget to put it on?
If you forget to use your cream or ointment, do not worry. Use it as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose.
In this case, skip the missed dose and apply the next one at the usual time.
5. Side effects
Beclometasone skin creams are unlikely to cause any side effects if you follow the instructions.
Some people get a burning or stinging feeling for a few minutes when they put beclometasone on their skin. This stops happening after you've been using it for a few days.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare. You're more likely to have a serious side effect if you use beclometasone on a large area of skin for a long time.
Using beclometasone for a long time can make your skin thinner or cause stretch marks. Stretch marks are likely to be permanent, but they usually fade over time.
Stop using beclometasone and tell a doctor immediately if:
- the treated skin becomes redder or swollen, or yellow fluid is weeping from your skin – these are signs of a new skin infection or an existing one getting worse
- you get lighter or darker patches on your skin – these are a sign of changes to the pigment in your skin
- you have a very upset stomach or you're being sick (vomiting), feel very tired, have very bad dizziness or fainting, muscle weakness, mood changes, loss of appetite and weight loss – these can be signs of adrenal gland problems
- you are using beclometasone for psoriasis and you get raised bumps filled with pus under your skin
- you feel confused, sleepy, more thirsty or hungry than usual, pee more often, have hot flushes, start breathing quickly or your breath smells of fruit – these can be signs of high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). There's a small risk of this when using beclometasone for a long time
- you have any new problems with your eyesight after starting to use beclometasone
Children and teenagers
In very rare cases, using beclometasone for a long time can slow down the normal growth of children and teenagers.
Your child's doctor will monitor their height and weight carefully for as long as they're using this medicine. This will help them spot any slowing down of your child's growth and change their treatment if needed.
Talk to your doctor if you're worried. They will be able to explain the benefits and risks of your child using beclometasone.
Serious allergic reaction
It happens rarely but it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to beclometasone.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of beclometasone. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.
6. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Beclometasone and pregnancy
Beclometasone cream is safe to use during pregnancy. Since it's applied to the skin, very little of the medicine gets into your bloodstream and almost none gets to your baby. Even if a small amount does get to your baby, it will not harm them.
Read more about how using corticosteroid cream or ointment, like beclometasone, might affect you and your baby during pregnancy from the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPs) website.
Beclometasone and breastfeeding
You can use beclometasone cream or ointment while you're breastfeeding. It is not known how much passes into breast milk, but it's likely to be a tiny amount. It would not be expected to cause any side effects in your baby.
Take care that your baby does not touch any areas of your body where you've used beclometasone. If you're using beclometasone on your breasts, wash off any cream or ointment from your breasts or nipples, then wash your hands before feeding your baby.
It's usually better to use cream rather than ointment when breastfeeding, as it's easier to wash off.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
7. Cautions with other medicines
Other medicines are very unlikely to affect the way beclometasone creams work.
However, tell a pharmacist or doctor if you're taking:
- medicines used to treat HIV, such as ritonavir or cobicistat
- medicines used to treat fungal infections, such as ketoconazole or itraconazole
- other medicines that contain steroids, such as eczema creams, asthma inhalers, tablets, injections, nasal sprays, and eye or nose drops
Mixing beclometasone with herbal remedies and supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements while using beclometasone. Ask a pharmacist for advice.
Important: Medicine safety
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.
8. Common questions
How does beclometasone work?
Beclometasone is a steroid (also called a corticosteroid). Steroids help to reduce inflammation in the skin (and other parts of your body).
Skin gets inflamed when an allergic reaction or irritation causes chemicals to be released in the skin. These make blood vessels widen and your irritated skin becomes red, swollen, itchy and painful.
Beclometasone works inside your skin's cells to stop these chemicals being released. This reduces the swelling, redness and itching.
When will my skin get better?
Your skin should start to get better after you've used beclometasone for a few days.
Speak to your doctor if there is no improvement after 4 weeks, or if your skin gets worse at any time.
If your doctor says it's OK to use beclometasone on your face, follow their instructions carefully. Speak to your doctor if your skin is no better after about 5 days.
How long can I use beclometasone for?
For long-term skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis you may need to use the medicine for a few weeks, or sometimes longer.
To reduce the risk of side effects, your doctor may recommend that you only use beclometasone for a few weeks at a time. Tell your doctor if your skin gets worse or does not improve within 2 to 4 weeks.
Do not use beclometasone for more than 4 weeks without talking to your doctor. If you need treatment for a long time, they may decide you need to use a milder cream or ointment.
Talk to your doctor before stopping treatment if you've been using beclometasone for a long time. They may tell you to gradually use less of it, and use it less often, before you stop completely. This reduces the chance of your symptoms coming back.
Once your skin gets better, your doctor may recommend using moisturisers to keep it from getting inflamed again.
Why should I not use beclometasone on my face?
Do not use beclometasone on your face unless a doctor has told you to.
The skin on your face is delicate, so if beclometasone cream thins the skin or damages it, it's particularly noticeable.
If your doctor tells you that you can use beclometasone on your face, follow their instructions carefully.
Do not put the cream or ointment near your eyes or on your eyelids.
Is it safe to use for a long time?
If you use beclometasone creams as your doctor, nurse or pharmacist recommends, you are unlikely to get any lasting side effects.
However, using beclometasone for a long time without stopping can mean some of the medicine gets into your bloodstream.
If this happens, there's a very small chance it can cause serious side effects, such as adrenal gland problems, high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), thinning of your skin, or problems with your eyesight.
If you have been using beclometasone for a long time, your doctor may tell you to gradually reduce the amount you use before stopping completely.
Can beclometasone make eczema worse?
Steroids like beclometasone reduce swelling (inflammation) in your skin to help manage your symptoms. They do not cure eczema.
If you feel your symptoms are getting worse after using beclometasone, it's important to tell a doctor.
When you stop using beclometasone, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can flare up again.
You can avoid this by gradually reducing the amount you put on, and how often you use it. Your doctor can tell you how to do this.
Can I still have vaccinations?
Using beclometasone does not stop you or your child having vaccinations.
But tell the doctor or nurse that you're using beclometasone so they can give the vaccine in an untreated area of skin.
Can I drink alcohol while using it?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while using beclometasone.
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
No. What you eat and drink does not affect this medicine.
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no clear evidence that using beclometasone affects male or female fertility.
However, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor if you're trying to get pregnant.
Will it affect my contraception?
Beclometasone does not affect any type of contraception including the combined pill and emergency contraception.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Beclometasone does not make you sleepy, so it's safe to drive or ride a bike when using this medicine.
But contact a doctor if you get any problems with your vision. Do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery if you have problems with your eyesight after using beclometasone.