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Dexamethasone (injection)

Generic name: dexamethasone (injection) [ DEX-a-METH-a-sone ]
Brand names: De-Sone LA injection, Decadron (injection)
Dosage forms: injectable solution (10 mg/mL; 10 mg/mL preservative-free; 4 mg/mL), intravenous solution (6 mg/25 mL-NaCl 0.9%)
Drug class: Glucocorticoids

Medically reviewed by on Aug 2, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a steroid medicine used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, breathing disorders, eye conditions, blood cell disorders, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, inflammation of the joints or tendons, and problems caused by low adrenal gland hormone levels.

Dexamethasone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Dexamethasone side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Dexamethasone may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • fever, chills, tiredness;

  • worsening pain, swelling, or stiffness of a joint treated with dexamethasone;

  • muscle weakness, limp feeling;

  • swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;

  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;

  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;

  • a seizure;

  • increased pressure inside the skull--severe headaches, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, pain behind your eyes;

  • pancreatitis--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting; or

  • low blood potassium--leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness or limp feeling.

Dexamethasone can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects of dexamethasone may include:

  • fluid retention (swelling in your hands or ankles);

  • headache, dizziness;

  • increased blood pressure;

  • slow wound healing;

  • acne, thinning skin, bruising or discoloration;

  • changes in your menstrual periods; or

  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, and all the medicines you are using. There are many other diseases that can be affected by steroid use, and many other medicines that can interact with steroids.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with dexamethasone if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

Steroids can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection or worsening an infection you already have. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you had within the past several weeks.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How is dexamethasone given?

Dexamethasone is injected into a muscle or a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Dexamethasone is usually given by injection only if you are unable to take the medicine by mouth.

Your dose needs may change due to surgery, illness, stress, or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.

dexamethasone can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using dexamethasone.

You may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop using dexamethasone suddenly after long-term use. Ask your doctor before stopping the medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

High doses or long-term use of steroid medicine can lead to thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex.

What should I avoid while receiving dexamethasone?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chickenpox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medicine.

Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking dexamethasone.

Avoid receiving a "live" vaccine, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), and zoster (shingles).

Avoid receiving any other type of vaccine without your doctor's advice, including a yearly flu shot.

What other drugs will affect dexamethasone?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Many drugs can affect dexamethasone. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Frequently asked questions

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.