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Is betamethasone an antifungal?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Feb 3, 2021.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Betamethasone is not an antifungal medication. It is a steroid. Betamethasone is prescribed to relieve the itching, redness, dryness and scaling associated with inflammatory skin conditions such as contact dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema.

It is available in many strengths and topical forms, including:

  • Ointment
  • Cream
  • Lotion
  • Gel
  • Spray
  • Foam

Steroids like betamethasone work by relieving the inflammation that causes these uncomfortable symptoms. Betamethasone is the generic name for the medication. It is also available under many brand names, including:

  • Beta-Val
  • Dermabet
  • Diprolene
  • Luxiq
  • Sernivo
  • Valnac

Betamethasone is typically applied to affected areas of skin once or twice a day, and improvements are usually noticeable within two weeks. Some forms of topical betamethasone are better suited for specific body areas than others. For example, betamethasone foam is often recommended for scalp psoriasis, while ointments are often suggested for dry, non-hairy skin areas.

Betamethasone is recommended when other over-the-counter or prescription topicals, including hydrocortisone skin cream, do not treat symptoms effectively. Some types of betamethasone are up to 600 times as potent as hydrocortisone (also a steroid).

Side effects of topical betamethasone may include:

  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Acne
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Bruising
  • Changes in skin color
  • Small red bumps or rashes around the mouth
  • Tiny white or red bumps on the skin

More serious side effects may include:

  • Rash
  • Skin infection where betamethasone was applied

Carefully follow instructions on the label to minimize any side effects.

Sometimes betamethasone is combined with an antifungal medication known as clotrimazole. Antifungals work by killing fungus or preventing it from growing. Athlete's foot and yeast infections are examples of fungal infections in the body.

Lotrisone is a combination of clotrimazole and betamethasone. The combination treats a fungal infection in two ways. Clotrimazole attacks the fungus, while the betamethasone reduces inflammation, redness, swelling, itching and other symptoms of the fungal infection.

Pills and/or shots of betamethasone may also be used to treat severe allergic attacks, systemic inflammation and autoimmune conditions, including flares of rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis.

References
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Betamethasone topical. (February 15, 2018). Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682799.html. [Accessed January 12, 2021].
  2. New Zealand Dermatological Society. Topical steroid. (January 4, 2016). Available at: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/topical-steroid/. [Accessed January 12, 2021].
  3. National Health Service. Betamethasone for skin. (August 21, 2020). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/betamethasone-skin/. [Accessed January 12, 2021]. 

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