Is fluocinonide a steroid?
Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Feb 3, 2021.
Yes, fluocinonide is a type of steroid called a corticosteroid. It is used to treat the redness, scaling and itching caused by flare-ups of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis in adults and children age 12 or older.
Steroids like fluocinonide are often used to treat these skin conditions when initial treatments (like moisturizers) have not worked to control symptoms.
Topical steroids are categorized by potency from lowest potency (class VII) to highest (class I). Fluocinonide is considered a high potency (class II) steroid. For comparison, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream is in class VII, the lowest potency.
Fluocinonide is a prescription drug. It comes in formulations meant to be applied to the skin (topical use) and is available as a gel, cream, ointment and solution. It comes in two strengths — 0.05% and 0.1%. The form and strength of the drug used depends on the:
- Skin condition being treated
- Part of the body it will be applied to
- Severity of symptoms
- Person's age
Fluocinonide is typically applied in a thin layer on the affected skin two to four times a day as directed by your health care provider. Do not wrap or cover the area after applying fluocinonide unless your provider tells you to. Do not apply fluocinonide around your eyes. Always wash your hands well after applying this medication. Fluocinonide is not typically used for longer than three weeks at a time.
Side effects of topical fluocinonide may include:
- Skin irritation, like burning, cracking, itching and redness
- Skin discoloration
- Rash of tiny red bumps around the mouth
- Small red or white skin bumps
- Enlarged blood vessels near the surface of the skin
More serious side effects may include:
- Severe rash
- Skin infection where fluocinonide was applied
It is also possible to have side effects that affect the whole body, such as increased blood pressure and increased blood sugar. These side effects are more likely to occur when using:
- Higher potency steroids
- Topical steroids for long periods of time
- Topical steroids applied over large areas of the body
- Wraps or coverings on the skin after applying the steroid
- 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 8, 2021].
- National Psoriasis Foundation. Steroids. October 8, 2020. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/steroids/ [Accessed January 12, 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. [Accessed January 12, 2021].
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