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Can halobetasol be used on the scalp?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Jan 24, 2024.

Official answer


Halobetasol should not be used on the scalp, although it is used on the skin in other areas of the body. Halobetasol is a strong topical steroid prescribed to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Halobetasol should also not be used on your:

  • Face
  • Groin
  • Axillae (armpit)

Topical steroids can quickly relieve the inflammation that causes swelling, itching and other symptoms associated with these conditions. Other types of topical steroids are prescribed to treat scalp psoriasis.

Halobetasol is a prescription medication, but some topical steroids are available over-the-counter. It is available in many strengths and topical forms, including:

  • Ointment
  • Cream
  • Lotion
  • Gel
  • Spray
  • Foam

Ointments and creams can be difficult and messy to use on the scalp, so other forms of steroids (like liquids, gels, shampoos or foams) are often used because they are easier to apply to this area.

Sometimes other treatments, such as a form of vitamin D, are paired with topical steroids. This regulates the immune system to slow the overgrowth of skin cells that can happen with psoriasis. This combination is considered the most effective treatment for scalp psoriasis, as well as the least likely to cause irritation or other side effects.

Side effects are more likely to happen with strong steroids. Halobetasol is considered potent to very potent, depending on the form. Side effects of halobetasol include:

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Acne
  • Small red bumps or a rash around the mouth
  • Small white bumps or a rash around the mouth
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Skin discoloration
  • Bruising
  • Red or purple blotches underneath the skin

More serious side effects of halobetasol may include:

  • Skin infection
  • Severe rash
  • Sores
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Blurred vision or other eye changes

Follow the instructions on the label carefully to minimize the risk of side effects.

  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Ultravate lotion. August 2020. Available at: [Accessed January 22, 2021].
  2. Cochrane. Topical treatments for psoriasis of the scalp. February 26, 2016. Available at: treatments-psoriasis-scalp. [Accessed January 18, 2021].
  3. National Psoriasis Foundation. Potency chart. Undated. Available at: [Accessed January 18, 2021].
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Halobetasol topical. November 15, 2020. Available at: [Accessed January 18, 2021].
  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Scalp psoriasis: diagnosis and treatment. Undated. Available at: [Accessed January 18, 2021].
  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Scalp psoriasis: shampoos, scale softeners, and other treatments. Undated. Available at: [Accessed January 18, 2021].

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