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Betamethasone Topical

Generic name: betamethasone topical [ BAY-ta-METH-a-sone-TOP-ik-al ]
Brand names: Alphatrex, Beta-Val, Betaderm, Betanate, Betatrex, ... show all 14 brands
Drug class: Topical steroids

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 23, 2023.

What is betamethasone topical?

Betamethasone is a highly potent steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

Betamethasone topical (for the skin) is used to treat the inflammation and itching caused by a number of skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Betamethasone topical is available in a cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray.

Topical betamethasone formulations are usually formulated with one of two salts: betamethasone dipropionate or betamethasone valerate. The potency of betamethasone formulations can vary depending on which salt is used – dipropionate or valerate.

Betamethasone dipropionate contains two esters - this makes it more fat soluble and increases its ability to penetrate the skin better. This makes it more potent than betamethasone valerate, which only contains one ester.

The absorption and potency of a topical steroid can also vary depending on the vehicle used to deliver the steroid (such as a cream, gel, lotion, or ointment) and if it has been augmented or not. Augmentation refers to enhancing the vehicle with a substance, such as propylene glycol, to allow it to penetrate the skin more quickly and work faster. For example, augmented betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% ointment or gel is a Class 1 (highly potent) topical steroid, but the augmented lotion or cream and regular betamethasone dipropionate ointment is Class 2.

Potency of betamethasone preparations

Class 1 (highly potent)

Class 2 (potent)

Class 3 (upper medium potency)

Class 4 and 5 (medium potency)


Do not use betamethasone longer than you have been told to by your doctor. Use care when using on a large part of the skin. Talk with your doctor.

Do not use to treat diaper rash or redness. Avoid applying betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray to the diaper area.

Different brands of betamethasone may be for use in different ages of children. Talk with the doctor before using betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray on a child.

If you are breastfeeding, do not apply betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray to the nipple or the area around it.

Betamethasone may raise the chance of cataracts or glaucoma. Talk to your doctor.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use betamethasone if you are allergic to it.

To make sure betamethasone is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

It may not be safe to breastfeed a baby while you are using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risks. If you apply betamethasone to your chest, avoid areas that may come into contact with the baby's mouth.

Do not use betamethasone on a child without a doctor's advice. Children can absorb larger amounts of this medicine through the skin and may be more likely to have side effects.

Diprolene is not approved for use by anyone younger than 13 years old. Sernivo and Luxiq are not approved for anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I use betamethasone ?

Use betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin. Do not use on open wounds or on sunburned, windburned, dry, or irritated skin. Rinse with water if this medicine gets in your eyes or mouth.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Wash your hands before and after using this medicine, unless you are using the medicine to treat the skin on your hands.

Apply a small amount to the affected area and rub it gently into the skin. Do not apply betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray over a large area of skin.

Do not cover the treated skin area unless your doctor tells you to. Covering treated areas can increase the amount of medicine absorbed through your skin and may cause harmful effects.

Use betamethasone regularly to get the most benefit. Stop using the medicine once your symptoms clear up.

Call your doctor if your skin condition does not improve after 2 weeks, or if it gets worse.

Do not use Diprolene for longer than 2 weeks in a row. Do not use Sernivo or Luxiq for longer than 4 weeks.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

The foam is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Do not smoke until the foam has completely dried on your skin.

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatitis:

Cream, gel, ointment:


Use: Relief of the inflammatory and pruritic manifestations of corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses

Usual Adult Dose for Plaque Psoriasis:



Use: For the treatment of mild to moderate plaque psoriasis.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Dermatitis:

12 years or older:


Use: Relief of the inflammatory and pruritic manifestations of corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses

What other drugs will affect betamethasone?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not apply two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

Long term use of high doses can lead to thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex.

What should I avoid while using betamethasone?

Do not get betamethasone topical in your eyes. If contact does occur, rinse with water.

Avoid applying betamethasone to the skin of your face, underarms, or groin area without your doctor's instruction.

Do not use betamethasone to treat any condition that has not been checked by your doctor.

Betamethasone side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to betamethasone: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using betamethasone and call your doctor at once if you have:

Your skin can absorb topical steroid medicine, which may cause steroid side effects throughout the body. Stop using betamethasone and call your doctor if you have:

Steroids can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common betamethasone side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use betamethasone cream, gel, ointment, lotion, foam, or spray only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.