Skip to main content

How long does it take for betamethasone to work?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on July 4, 2022.

Official answer


How long betamethasone takes to work depends on whether the product is applied topically (to the skin or scalp) or given by injection, the potency of the betamethasone salt, the condition being treated, and individual patient factors that affect how much betamethasone is absorbed.

Topical betamethasone – how long does it take to work?

For most skin conditions, and in most people, some improvement is noted within three to four days of starting treatment.

The majority of conditions should resolve within one week of betamethasone use.

  • Talk to your doctor if you are using betamethasone in combination with clotrimazole for tinea cruris (jock itch) or tinea corporis (ringworm of the body) and the condition has not resolved within ONE week.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are using betamethasone in combination with clotrimazole for tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) and the condition has not resolved within TWO weeks.
  • For all other skin conditions, except for psoriasis, talk to your doctor about changing to a different treatment or a more potent corticosteroid if your skin condition has not resolved within two weeks of starting betamethasone.

Treatment with topical betamethasone should not exceed two weeks unless your doctor has advised otherwise or you are using it to treat psoriasis.

Injectable betamethasone - How long does it take to work?

How long injectable betamethasone given by IM injection takes to work depends on the condition being treated.

  • Some response is usually noted within two to three days.
  • If no response is seen after one or two injections, additional injections are unlikely to provide benefit.

The following are estimates:

  • Antenatal fetal maturation (off-label use): Optimum benefit is seen 24 hours after starting treatment and lasts for approximately seven days when given to pregnant women between 24 and 34 weeks of gestation, who are at risk of delivering within 7 days.
  • Bursitis, foot conditions, arthritis: Most people report some relief within three to four days. If symptoms are not improved after 1 or 2 injections, additional injections are unlikely to provide benefit.
  • Skin conditions: Improvement usually seen within two to three days and the effects last for one to two weeks.

How potent is betamethasone?

Topical corticosteroids are grouped according to potency. In general, the lowest effective potency should be used for the shortest possible time. The higher the potency, the more likely it is to be absorbed, be effective, work quickly, but cause side effects.

There are several different derivatives, or salts, of topical betamethasone that affect how potent the betamethasone is. In addition, changing the base formulation of the topical product, or what the betamethasone is dissolved in or mixed with, can also affect potency. In general, the following formulations of betamethasone are grouped according to potency and formulation:

  • Medium-range potency: betamethasone valerate 0.1% cream and lotion; betamethasone valerate 0.12% foam; betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% cream and lotion
  • High-range potency: betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% ointment; augmented (optimized) betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% cream, lotion, and ointment; combination betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% and clotrimazole 1% cream or lotion
  • Super-high-range potency: augmented (optimized) betamethasone dipropionate 0.05% gel.
  • Betamethasone (Systemic)
  • Dhar S, Seth J, Parikh D. Systemic side-effects of topical corticosteroids. Indian J Dermatol. 2014;59(5):460-464. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.139874
  • Betamethasone Valerate topical,to%20have%20medium%2Drange%20potency.&text=Ointment%20(0.05%25%20betamethasone%20dipropionate),to%20have%20high%2Drange%20potency.&text=Cream%2C%20lotion%2C%20and%20ointment%20(,to%20have%20high%2Drange%20potency.

Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups