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How long should you use fluocinonide?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Jul 28, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

You should not use fluocinonide, a potent topical corticosteroid (“steroid”), on your skin for longer than 2 weeks unless directed to do so by your doctor. If you see that your condition is not improving after 2 weeks contact your doctor who will reassess your treatment.

Corticosteroid creams come in various potencies. Fluocinonide is considered to be a super-highly potent (0.1%) to highly potent topical corticosteroid (0.05%) used on the skin to treat inflammation and itching caused by plaque psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema) or other skin conditions such as allergic reactions or rashes. Fluocinonide can relieve symptoms such as pain, itching, redness, crusting, and scaling.

How do I apply fluocinonide?

Only use this medication as directed by your doctor. Fluocinonide is normally applied topically one to four times per day, depending upon your age, use, and strength of medicine.  Your doctor may also recommend that you do not use more than 60 grams of cream per week in total, especially with higher strengths.

Do not apply more than directed, more frequently, or for a longer period of time than prescribed. If you do so, you may experience serious side effects.

Apply fluocinonide sparingly in a thin film. Rub in lightly. Do not use fluocinonide if you are allergic to it or to any of its inactive ingredients.

Table 1. Fluocinonide Products Available in the U.S.

Brand / generic names Topical dosage form(s)
Fluocinonide generic (0.05%, 0.1%) Cream, ointment, solution, gel
Lidex, Lidex-E 0.05% (brands discontinued) Cream (emollient)
Vanos 0.1% Cream

Fluocinonide 0.1% cream comes as an expensive brand name product known as Vanos, but it is also available generically. While the brand name product is very expensive if not covered by insurance, the generic products are quite affordable if you are paying cash or may be covered by insurance. Generic fluocononide comes as a topical cream (0.05%, 0.1%), or in a solution, gel or ointment (0.05%).

Be careful not to get fluocinonide in your eyes, nose, mouth, or vagina. Do not use it in areas that are inflammed or bleeding, such as wounds or burns. Wash your hands after use (unless you are treating your hands). Lower strength formulations (0.05%) can be used cautiously on the face, but only as directed by your doctor.

Do not apply a bandage or dressing to the area of skin you are treating unless advised by your doctor. Covering this area will increase the absorption of the steroid through your skin and increase the risk of side effects.

What side effects can occur with fluocinonide?

Topical steroids like fluocinonide can be absorbed through the skin and linked with important side effects. If you experience any irritation or side effect with the use of fluocinonide, contact your doctor immediately.

Side effects are more likely to occur if the area is covered with an occlusive dressing (wrap) or with extensive or prolonged use of high strength medicines.

Only use this medicine on your face, groin, or axillae (armpit) if directed by your doctor.

Possible side effects due to fluocinonide:

  • 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 crisis
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
  • Skin infections

This is not a complete list of side effects or warnings. Review the full fluocinonide monograph to see all reported side effects.

Bottom Line

  • You should not use fluocinonide, a potent topical corticosteroid (“steroid”), on your skin for longer than 2 weeks unless directed to do so by your doctor.
  • Fluocinonide is used on the skin to treat inflammation and itching caused by plaque psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema) or other skin conditions.
  • It can relieve symptoms such as redness, itching, dryness and scaling. Follow your doctors instructions exactly because excessive use can lead to dangerous side effects.
  • Fluocinonide comes as a brand name product (Vanos Cream) or in generic options, which may be more affordable. It come as a topical solution, cream, ointment, and gel.

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

References
  • Fluocinonide topical. Monograph. Drugs.com. Dec. 2019. Accessed July 28, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/mtm/fluocinonide-topical.html
  • Goldstein B, et al. Topical corticosteroids: Use and adverse effects. Up to Date. June 2020. Accessed July 28, 2020 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/topical-corticosteroids-use-and-adverse-effects

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