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Can betamethasone be used for a yeast infection?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on July 14, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

A skin cream containing betamethasone in combination with clotrimazole MAY, in certain circumstances, be used for some yeast infections: however, a skin cream or lotion that only contains betamethasone should NEVER be used for a yeast infection because it does not kill the yeast and can make the infection worse.

Topical corticosteroids, such as betamethasone, weaken the skin’s defenses and allow yeast infections to invade deeper into the skin. Even though it may look like the fungal infection is clearing up, with symptoms such as itching and redness decreasing, as soon as you stop using the steroid cream, the yeast proliferates rapidly, spreads, and infects more of the skin. The result is a significant yeast infection.

In addition, betamethasone is classed as a moderate-to-high potency corticosteroid, and if a steroid cream was deemed necessary to use in combination with an antifungal, then a low potency steroid, such as hydrocortisone, should be chosen first.

Even though some combination antifungal/steroid creams say on the packet that they treat fungal or yeast infections, for most fungal or yeast infections a simple antifungal, such as clotrimazole, by itself, is sufficient to clear the infection. Even for very inflamed yeast infections, a topical antifungal is usually enough to bring down the inflammation.

Most yeast infections (such as jock itch or ringworm) will resolve within a week. Vaginal yeast infections are best treated with an antifungal cream or pessary that is inserted into the vagina, or with one dose of an oral antifungal tablet. Never treat vaginal yeast infections with a combination antifungal/steroid cream.

In some developing countries, such as India, very severe yeast and fungal infections have been associated with the use of over-the-counter mid-to high-potency topical corticosteroids, such as betamethasone. These are commonly sold as fixed-dose combinations with an antifungal medication and one or two antibacterial medications. One dermatophyte species, Trichophyton mentagrophytes has been identified as the main cause of these significant infections and laboratory testing has shown it is resistant to most common antifungals, mainly because of the widespread use of topical OTC antifungal/corticosteroid creams.

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