Can I use betamethasone cream on my face?
Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 10, 2020.
Some lower strength forms of betamethasone cream may be appropriate to use on the face for conditions such as dermatitis, but should only be used if recommended by your doctor. Higher potency betamethasone products should not be used on the face due to the risk of side effects like skin thinning, visible broken capillaries (telangiectasia), and striae (lines on the face).
If your skin condition is severe, covers an extensive area of your face, or involves the eyelids, a faster-acting oral corticosteroid pill like prednisone may need to be prescribed by your doctor instead of a topical cream.
How strong is betamethasone cream?
In the US, there is a special classification system used to help compare the strengths of topical corticosteroid creams. These groups range from super-high potency (Group 1) to least potent (Group 7).
More potent creams can be associated with a higher risk for side effects, and can be especially problematic in areas such as the face, groin, armpits, lips, or around your eyes. This is why it is important to see your doctor and have the correct strength of cream prescribed.
The betamethasone products that are typically prescribed for use on the face fall into lower-mid potency (Group 5) and low potency (Group 6). There are no betamethasone products in group 7. Generic options are available for most of these agents, making them more affordable. They include:
- betamethasone valerate lotion 0.1% - low potency, Group 6
- betamethasone valerate cream 0.1% (brand names: Valnac, Dermabet) - lower-mid potency, Group 5
- betamethasone dipropionate lotion 0.05% - lower-mid potency, Group 5
Low-potency steroids are considered the safest agents to use long-term, on large surface areas, on the face or areas of the body with thinner skin, and on children.
Occlusive dressings or bandages should not be applied to the face over the areas where the betamethasone is applied, unless you are directed to do so by your doctor. This may increase your risk for irritation or infection.
Your doctor can prescribe the correct strength of cream to use on or around your face. Follow your doctor’s dosing instruction exactly about the amount to apply and how often. Topical corticosteroids are typically applied once or twice daily for one to two weeks.
Which betamethasone products should NOT be used on the face?
Betamethasone products that are in corticosteroids groups 1, 2, 3 or 4 are considered too potent to use on the face. These products are often used for conditions such as psoriasis, severe poison ivy, or severe eczema. These products included:
- betamethasone dipropionate spray 0.05% - (medium potency, Group 4)
- betamethasone valerate ointment 0.1% - (high potency, Group 3)
- betamethasone valerate foam 0.12% (brand name: Luxiq) - (high potency, Group 3)
- betamethasone dipropionate, cream, hydrophilic emollient 0.05% (high potency, Group 3)
- betamethasone dipropionate ointment 0.05% (high potency, Group 2)
- betamethasone dipropionate, augmented (gel, lotion, cream ointment) (brand name: Diprolene) 0.05% - (super-high potency, Group 1)
Do NOT use betamethasone to treat:
- bacterial, fungal, or viral skin infections (such as herpes simplex or chickenpox)
- eyelid or eye conditions
- mild rashes
- perioral dermatitis
- phimosis (a tight foreskin)
- ringworm (unless in combination with an antifungal, although a lower potency corticosteroid is preferred)
- skin conditions caused by vaccinations, tuberculosis or syphilis.
- Some lower strength forms of betamethasone cream may be appropriate to use on the face for conditions such as dermatitis, but should only be used if recommended by your doctor.
- Very high, high, and mid-potency creams should not be used on the face due to the risk of side effects like skin thinning, visible broken capillaries (telangiectasia), and striae (lines on the face).
- Do not use betamethasone to treat any skin condition that has not been checked by your doctor.
This is not all the information you need to know about betamethasone cream for safe and effective use. Review the full betamethasone information here, and discuss this and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Brod B, et al. Management of allergic contact dermatitis. Up to Date. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/management-of-allergic-contact-dermatitis
- Ference JD, Last AR. Choosing topical corticosteroids. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jan 15;79(2):135-40. PMID: 19178066.
- Betamethasone product monograph. Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/ppa/betamethasone-topical.html
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