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Desonate Gel

Generic name: desonide topicalDES-oh-nide ]
Brand name: Desonate
Drug class: Topical steroids

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Aug 15, 2023.

What is Desonate?

Desonate is a corticosteroid. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

Desonate gel is used to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in patients 3 months of age and older. Treatment should continue for the minimum amount of time as necessary to achieve the desired results.

Treatment with Desonate gel should not exceed 4 consecutive weeks.


Use Desonate gel exactly as directed on the label, or as it has been prescribed by your doctor. Do not use this medicine in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Topical steroid medicine can be absorbed through the skin, which may cause steroid side effects throughout the body.

Do not cover treated skin areas with a bandage or other covering unless your doctor has told you to. If you are treating the diaper area of a baby, do not use plastic pants or tight-fitting diapers. Covering the skin that is treated with Desonate can increase the amount of medicine your skin absorbs, which may lead to unwanted side effects. Follow your doctor's instructions. Do not use Desonate on a child without a doctor's advice. Children are more likely to absorb large amounts of a topical steroid through the skin. Steroid absorption in children may cause unwanted side effects, or a delay in growth with long-term use. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using Desonate over a long treatment period.

Contact your doctor if your condition does not improve after 2 weeks of using this medicine, or if you develop signs of a bacterial, fungal, or viral skin infection.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Desonate gel if you are allergic to desonide.

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

  • any type of skin infection;

  • diabetes; or

  • a skin reaction to any steroid medicine.

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

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

Only apply this medicine to a child under medical supervision.

Children can absorb larger amounts of this medicine through the skin and may be more likely to have side effects.

How should I use Desonate?

Desonate gel is usually applied 2 times a day. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

Do not take by mouth. Desonate gel is for use only on the skin. Rinse with water if this medicine gets in your eyes or mouth.

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

Apply a thin layer of gel to the affected skin and rub it in gently. Do not apply Desonate gel over a large area of skin unless your doctor has told you to.

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

Desonate gel should NOT be used for the treatment of diaper dermatitis and the gel should not be applied in the diaper area, as diapers or plastic pants may also increase the amount of desonide absorbed and cause adverse effects.

This medicine is for short-term use only (such as 2 to 4 weeks). Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

You should stop using the medicine once your skin symptoms are controlled.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle or tube tightly closed when not in use.

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatitis:

Apply a thin film of gel to the affected areas twice a day and rub in gently.
Duration of therapy: 4 weeks

-Treatment should be discontinued when control is achieved.
-Reassessment of diagnosis may be needed, if no improvement is observed in four weeks.
-This topical drug should NOT be used with occlusive dressings.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Atopic Dermatitis:

3 months or older:
Apply a thin layer of gel to the affected areas twice a day and rub in gently.
Duration of therapy: 4 weeks

-Treatment should be discontinued when control is achieved.
-Reassessment of diagnosis may be needed, if no improvement is observed in four weeks.
-This topical drug should not be used with occlusive dressings.

Use: Treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis

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.

High doses or long-term use of Desonate 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 Desonate?

Avoid getting this medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Do not use Desonate gel to treat any skin condition that has not been checked by your doctor.

Desonate side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • worsening of your skin condition;

  • redness, warmth, swelling, oozing, or severe irritation of any treated skin;

  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;

  • high blood sugar - increased thirst, increased urination, dry mouth, fruity breath odor; or

  • possible signs of absorbing this medicine through your skin - weight gain (especially in your face or your upper back and torso), slow wound healing, thinning or discolored skin, increased body hair, muscle weakness, nausea, diarrhea, tiredness, mood changes, menstrual changes, sexual changes.

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

Common Desonate side effects may include:

  • stinging or burning of treated skin;

  • skin irritation, redness, itching, or hardening;

  • dry, scaly, or oily skin;

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • acne, stretch marks; or

  • redness or crusting around your hair follicles.

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.

What other drugs will affect Desonate?

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 healthcare providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Frequently asked questions

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Desonate gel only for the indication prescribed.

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