Is fluocinonide an antibiotic?
Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Feb 3, 2021.
No, fluocinonide is not an antibiotic. It is a high-potency steroid used to treat the redness, scaling and itching caused by skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis in adults and children age 12 or older. Fluocinonide is applied to the skin (topical use).
Topical steroids like fluocinonide are often used when initial treatments (like moisturizers) have not worked to control symptoms. It is not exactly understood how steroids improve symptoms, but it is believed they reduce inflammation by inhibiting the immune system's response. Topical steroids are commonly used for just a few weeks at a time to control flare-ups.
Fluocinonide is a prescription drug. It is available as a cream, ointment, gel or solution, and comes in two strengths, 0.05% or 0.1%. The type and strength of the drug used depends on the:
- Skin condition being treated
- Area of the body it will be applied to
- Severity of symptoms
- Person's age
Steroids and antibiotics are different types of medicines. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacterial infections can develop in almost any part of the body, including the skin. Antibiotics come in many forms, including:
- Pills or liquids
- Creams or ointments
Which type of antibiotic is given and how long it is taken depend on the severity of the infection and location in the body. Most antibiotics are usually taken for a limited time, 1 to 2 weeks.
Antibiotics are not typically used to treat psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis because these skin conditions are not bacterial infections. But sometimes these conditions cause significant skin irritation and itching. Frequent scratching can break the skin, and then a bacterial infection may develop.
In this case, antibiotics may be necessary in addition to treatment for the skin condition. However, steroid therapy may be stopped if a bacterial infection requires treatment with antibiotics because steroids inhibit the immune system's response to infection, too.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fluocinonide cream. February 15, 2018. Available online at: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=41584f59-b641-4494-8b8e-7c845ac47335&version=6 [Accessed January 14, 2021].
- Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Berger TG, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis: section 2. Management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with topical therapies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(1):116–132. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2014.03.023
- Langan SM, Irvine AD, Weidinger S. Atopic dermatitis. Lancet. 2020;396:345–60. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31825-0
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