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Pronunciation: DESS-oh-nide
Class: Topical corticosteroid

Trade Names

- Cream 0.05%
- Ointment 0.05%
- Lotion 0.05%

- Lotion 0.05%

Desocort (Canada)
PMS-Desonide (Canada)


Low- to medium-potency topical corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory, antipruritic, and vasoconstrictive properties. Thought to act by induction of phospholipase A2 inhibitory proteins (lipocortins).

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Indications and Usage

Relief of inflammatory and pruritic manifestations of corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses.


Hypersensitivity to other corticosteroids or any component of the product.

Dosage and Administration

Adults and Children

Topical Apply sparingly to affected area twice daily to 4 times daily.

General Advice

  • For topical use only. Not for ophthalmic, oral, or intravaginal use.
  • Do not apply to face, groin, or axillae unless directed by health care provider.
  • Shake lotion well before using.
  • Apply medication sparingly, but in sufficient quantity to cover affected area(s), and rub in gently.
  • Do not cover with occlusive dressing unless ordered by health care provider.
  • If using lotion on scalp, part the hair, apply a small amount of the medicine on the affected area, rub it in gently, then protect the area from washing and rubbing until the lotion dries. Advise patient that they may wash hair as usual but not right after applying the medicine.
  • Avoid contact with the eyes. If medication does come into contact with the eyes, wash the eye(s) with large amounts of cool water. Notify health care provider if eye irritation occurs.


Store lotion, cream, and ointment below 86°F. Protect from freezing.

Drug Interactions

None well documented.

Laboratory Test Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions


Burning, stinging (3%); irritation, contact dermatitis, worsening condition, peeling skin, itching, intense transient erythema, dryness/scaliness (less than 2%).



Assess and document skin condition before initial application and periodically throughout treatment. Periodically evaluate patient applying medication to a large surface area, or to areas under occlusion, for evidence of HPA axis suppression (eg, ACTH stimulation, A.M. plasma cortisol, urinary free cortisol tests). If HPA axis suppression is noted, discontinue the drug, reduce frequency of application, or substitute a less potent corticosteroid. Supplement with systemic corticosteroids if symptoms of glucocorticosteroid insufficiency occur.


Category C .




Safety and efficacy not established. Children may be more susceptible to systemic toxicity from equivalent doses because of their larger skin surface to body mass ratios.

Concomitant skin infection

Ensure that appropriate antifungal or antibacterial therapy is used in patient who has a concomitant skin infection.

Systemic effects

Systemic absorption may produce reversible HPA axis suppression, manifestations of Cushing syndrome, hyperglycemia, and glucosuria. Prolonged application or application to large surface areas or areas under occlusion increase risk of systemic effects.



Absorption may be sufficient to produce systemic effects.

Patient Information

  • Advise patient to apply medication twice daily to 4 times daily as directed by health care provider.
  • Caution patient not to apply in greater quantity, or more frequently than prescribed by health care provider.
  • Teach patient or caregiver proper technique for applying cream, ointment, or lotion: wash or soak the affected area before applying medication, unless it irritates the affected area(s); wash hands; apply sufficient cream, ointment, or lotion to cover affected area(s) sparingly then gently massage into skin; wash hands after applying fluocinonide.
  • Advise patient using lotion on scalp to part the hair, apply a small amount of the medicine on the affected area, rub it in gently, then protect the area from washing and rubbing until the lotion dries. Advise patient not to wash hair directly after applying the medicine.
  • Advise patient who has been instructed to use an occlusive dressing to cover the area with plastic wrap after applying medication to affected area(s). The plastic may be held in place with a gauze or elastic bandage or adhesive tape on the normal skin beside the treated area. Advise patient that instead of using plastic wrap, plastic gloves may be used for the hands, plastic bags for the feet, or a shower cap for the scalp; leave the plastic wrapping or covering in place as long as instructed by health care provider. Instruct patient to cleanse the skin and reapply the medication each time a new plastic wrapping is applied.
  • Advise patient that if an application is missed, to apply it as soon as remembered and then continue on regular schedule. If it is almost time for the next application, instruct patient to skip the application and continue on regular schedule. Caution patient not to apply double doses.
  • Caution patient not to apply to face, underarms, or groin area unless directed by health care provider.
  • Caution caregiver of children not to use tight-fitting diapers or plastic pants on a child being treated in the diaper area.
  • Caution patient not to bandage, cover, or wrap treated skin areas, or use cosmetics or other skin products over treated areas unless advised by health care provider.
  • Caution patient to avoid contact with eyes. Advise patient that if medication does come into contact with the eyes, to wash them with large amounts of cool water and to contact health care provider if eye irritation occurs.
  • Advise patient that symptoms should begin to improve fairly soon after starting treatment and to notify health care provider if condition does not improve, worsens, or if application site reactions (eg, burning, stinging, redness, itching) develop.
  • Advise patient that therapy is usually discontinued when control has been achieved.

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