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Can halobetasol be used for poison ivy?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Jan 9, 2023.

Official answer


Halobetasol can be applied to the skin to treat the redness, itching and swelling caused by poison ivy in patients 12 years of age and older. It is considered a super-high potency topical anti-inflammatory corticosteroid. It requires a prescription and comes as a cream, ointment, foam, or lotion. Generic and brand name products are available.

Halobetasol can also be used to treat other skin conditions that respond to topical anti-inflammatory treatment such as psoriasis, eczema (atopic dermatitis), insect bites, rashes, contact dermatitis, or skin allergies.

What is poison ivy?

Poison ivy is a type of allergic contact dermatitis that is caused by contact with the oily resin called urushiol found in the leaves, stems, sap and roots of poison ivy.

If your symptoms are severe, widespread or on your face or genital areas your doctor may order a 14 to 21 day course of oral corticosteroid such as prednisone, or give you a corticosteroid shot. Topical formulations have no effect on skin blisters due to poison ivy once they develop, but may relieve other symptoms such as itching and redness.

Learn more: Poison Ivy Rash

How does halobetasol come at the pharmacy?

Brand names of halobetasol include:

  • Bryhali 0.01% (lotion) from Bausch
  • Lexette 0.05% (aerosol foam) from Mayne Pharmaceuticals
  • Ultravate 0.05% (lotion, ointment) from Sun Pharma

Halobetasol is also available as a combination lotion product with tazarotene (brand name: Duobrii) approved for use in plaque psoriasis in adults.

Generic options for halobetasol are available in topical creams and ointments only.

What is the mechanism of action for halobetasol?

Topical corticosteroids like halobetasol work by control swelling, itching and redness and act like naturally occurring corticosteroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands found in the body above our kidneys. The adrenal glands produce hormones you need, such as cortisol and sex hormones.

Topical corticosteroids also lower the immune response, reduce skin cell turnover, and narrow the blood vessels.

How do I apply halobetasol?

  • Apply topical halobetasol in small amounts (sparingly) to the skin once or twice a day, or as directed by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
  • Treatment should not exceed 2 weeks in a row and your total dosage should not exceed 50 grams per week.
  • Stop your medication when control of your symptoms is achieved, as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • If you do not see improvement after 2 weeks of use, contact your doctor to have your condition re-evaluated.

Are side effects with halobetasol common?

When used as directed, most people tolerate topical corticosteroids creams well and have few side effects. It is important that you do not use more product than directed or for a longer period of time, as this can increase the chance for side effects. Do not cover your application site with a bandage or other occlusive dressing unless directed to do this by your doctor.

Side effects may include:

  • skin irritation, itching, burning, contact dermatitis, skin atrophy or striae, folliculitis, or changes in skin color
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • sugar in the urine (glycosuria)
  • decline in growth (children
  • HPA-axis suppression, adrenal crisi
  • high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • skin infections

See a complete list of side effects or warnings for halobetasol. Review the full halobetasol monographs to see all reported side effects and discuss these with your doctor.

How much does halobetasol cost?

The most affordable forms of halobetasol are the generic creams and ointments. The lotion and aerosol forms are not yet available as a generic option.

The costs, for both generic and brand examples if you are paying cash with an online coupon, are listed below. Prices may vary based on location, coupon type and pharmacy. If a generic is available, it will usually be more affordable than a brand name product.

Generics for halobetasol

  • halobetasol cream 0.05%, 50 gram tube: $35 to $60
  • halobetasol ointment, 0.05%, 50 gram tube: $55 to $70

Brands for halobetasol

  • Bryhali 0.01% (halobetasol lotion): 60 gram tube: $275
  • Lexette 0.05% (halobetasol aerosol foam): $700
  • Ultravate Lotion 0.05% (halobetasol lotion): 60 mL bottle: $965

Prices are approximate and will vary, depending upon if you are getting the brand or generic product, have insurance coverage and copay, or if you are paying cash and using an online coupon.

Price Guide: Topical halobetasol price guide and coupons

Which other topical steroids can be used for poison ivy?

There are many prescription topical corticosteroids products and strengths that can be used for poison ivy.

These include:

This is not all the information you need to know about halobetasol for safe and effective use. Review the full halobetasol information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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