Fluocinonide topical Side Effects

Not all side effects for fluocinonide topical may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to fluocinonide topical: topical application cream, topical application emollient cream, topical application gel/jelly, topical application ointment, topical application solution

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by fluocinonide topical. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking fluocinonide topical:

Incidence not known
  • Blistering, burning, crusting, dryness, or flaking of the skin
  • irritation
  • itching, scaling, severe redness, soreness, or swelling of the skin
  • redness and scaling around the mouth
  • thinning of the skin with easy bruising, especially when used on the face or where the skin folds together (e.g. between the fingers)
  • thinning, weakness, or wasting away of the skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with fluocinonide topical may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Less common
  • Fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
Incidence not known
  • Acne or pimples
  • burning and itching of the skin with pinhead-sized red blisters
  • burning, itching, and pain in hairy areas, or pus at the root of the hair
  • increased hair growth on the forehead, back, arms, and legs
  • lightening of normal skin color
  • lightening of treated areas of dark skin
  • reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • softening of the skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to fluocinonide topical: compounding powder, topical cream, topical gel, topical ointment, topical solution


Skin atrophy may become evident within one to two months of use and is due to the inhibitory effect of corticosteroids on collagen formation. Skin on the face, axilla, and groin appears to be most susceptible to the adverse long-term effects of topical fluocinonide. Use of high potency topical corticosteroids on these areas should be minimized or avoided.

Topical corticosteroid use may inhibit local immune response rendering the skin more susceptible to infections. Folliculitis is occasionally reported.

Perioral dermatitis or rosacea-like dermatitis has occurred in patients treated with potent topical corticosteroids who are of seborrheic skin type. This condition may flare temporarily upon discontinuation of topical steroids, prompting patients to continue their use. If topical corticosteroids are discontinued, this flare and the initial dermatitis generally resolves over a few weeks.

Worsening of psoriasis has occurred in a few patients.[Ref]

Local side effects have commonly included burning, itching, dryness, or irritation, especially when applied to denuded skin. Long-term use of topical corticosteroids has resulted in skin atrophy and thinning, and the development of striae, telangiectasia, subcutaneous hemorrhage, easy bruising, and bleeding. Allergic contact dermatitis has been occasionally reported.[Ref]


Endocrine side effects have included rare reports of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression. These reports were generally cases when higher potency topical corticosteroids were used over extensive areas and when occlusive dressings were used. HPA axis suppression has not been reported with fluocinonide.[Ref]

In one study, six patients received fluocinonide cream applied to 75% of their body (approximately 14 grams) every day for six days. No indication of HPA axis suppression was seen when compared with placebo.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included headache.[Ref]


Respiratory system side effects have included nasopharyngitis and nasal congestion.[Ref]


1. Bruce S, Epinette WW, Funicella T, Ison A, Jones EL, Loss R, Mcphee ME, Whitmore C "Comparative study of calcipotriene (MC 903) ointment and fluocinonide ointment in the treatment of psoriasis." J Am Acad Dermatol 31 (1994): 755-9

2. Barsky S "Multicenter trial analysis. Fluocinonide and betamethasone gel in psoriasis." Arch Dermatol 112 (1976): 1729-33

3. Burry JN "Topical drug addiction: adverse effects of fluorinated corticosteroid creams and ointments." Med J Aust 1 (1973): 393-6

4. Willis I, Cornell RC, Penneys NS, Zaias N "Multicenter study comparing 0.05% gel formulations of desoximetasone and fluocinonide in patients with scalp psoriasis." Clin Ther 8 (1986): 275-82

5. Jablonska S, Groniowska M, Dabroswki J "Comparative evaluation of skin atrophy in man induced by topical corticoids." Br J Dermatol 100 (1979): 193-206

6. "Product Information. Lidex (fluocinonide)." Syntex Laboratories Inc, Palo Alto, CA.

7. Sneddon I "Adverse effect of topical fluorinated corticosteroids in rosacea." Br Med J 1 (1969): 671-3

8. Akers WA "Risks of unoccluded topical steroids in clinical trials." Arch Dermatol 116 (1980): 786-8

9. Weber G "Perioral dermatitis, an important side-effect of corticosteroids." Dermatologica 152 Suppl (1976): 161-72

10. Weber G "Rosacea-like dermatitis: contraindication or intolerance reaction to strong steroids." Br J Dermatol 86 (1972): 253-9

11. Pace WE "Topical corticosteroids." Can Med Assoc J 108 (1973): 11 passim

12. Reitamo S, Lauerma AI, Stubb S, Kayhko K, Visa K, Forstrom L "Delayed hypersensitivity to topical corticosteroids." J Am Acad Dermatol 14 (1986): 582-9

13. Cotterill JA "Perioral dermatitis." Br J Dermatol 101 (1979): 259-62

14. Munro DD, Robinson TW, du Vivier AW, France DM, Clayton R, Sparkes CG "Betamethasone valerate ointment compared with fluocinonide FAPG." Arch Dermatol 113 (1977): 599-601

15. Brogden RN, Speight TM, Avery GS "Fluocinonide in FAPG base: a review of its therapeutic efficacy in inflammatory dermatoses." Drugs 7 (1974): 337-43

16. Novak E, Francom SF, Schlagel CA "Adrenal suppression with high-potency corticosteroid ointment formulations in normal subjects." Clin Ther 6 (1983): 59-71

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