Alphaderm cream (Hydrocortisone, urea)
How does it work?
Alpharderm cream contains two active ingredients, hydrocortisone and urea.
Hydrocortisone is a type of medicine called a topical corticosteroid.
Corticosteroids are medicines used for reducing inflammation. Inflammation of the skin happens as a result of allergy or irritation of the skin, and is caused by the release of various substances that are important in the immune system. These substances cause blood vessels to widen and result in the irritated area becoming red, swollen, itchy and painful, such as is seen in dermatitis or eczema.
When hydrocortisone is applied to the skin it works by acting inside the cells to decrease the release of these inflammatory substances. This reduces swelling, redness and itch.
Urea is a substance that is found naturally in the skin, which by its nature is very attracted to water. It is used to help rehydrate dry, scaly skin.
When urea is applied to the skin it penetrates the outer layer of skin called the stratum corneum, where it readily absorbs and retains water. This increases the capacity of the skin to hold moisture and helps the skin become rehydrated.
By rehydrating and softening the skin, urea improves the ability of the hydrocortisone to penetrate the skin and reduce inflammation. Hydrocortisone on its own is classed as a mild corticosteroid. However, the inclusion of urea in Alphaderm cream makes the hydrocortisone slightly more potent. Alphaderm cream is classed as a moderately potent corticosteroid.
What is it used for?
- An eruption of solid raised areas in the skin accompanied by intense itching (prurigo).
- Thickened skin rash caused by excessive scratching to relieve itching (neurodermatitis).
How do I use it?
- Alphaderm cream should be applied thinly and evenly to the affected area(s) of skin twice a day. Click here to see how much to use.
- If your doctor has advised you to use dressings with this medicine, the skin should be cleansed before applying the cream under a fresh dressing.
- Avoid applying this cream to weeping or split areas of skin, as it may cause temporary irritation of these areas.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after applying this medicine, unless the hands are the area being treated.
- You should continue using this medicine for as long as your doctor has prescribed. However, if you are applying this medicine to a child's skin, it should preferably not be used for longer than 7 to 14 days at a time. Follow the instructions given by your doctor.
- Don't use this medicine more often or for longer than advised by your doctor.
- Don't apply your moisturisers to the same area of skin at the same time as this medicine. Try to leave at least 30 minutes between applying moisturisers and this medicine, as otherwise the moisturiser could dilute the corticosteroid and potentially make it less effective.
- Alphaderm cream is for external use on the affected areas of skin only.
- Avoid getting the cream in the eyes, or inside the mouth or nose. Rinse with cold water if accidental contact occurs.
- You should never use Alphaderm as a moisturiser.
- If corticosteroids are used long-term, on large areas of skin, raw skin, skin folds, or under airtight dressings (including children's nappies) they are absorbed into the body more. This increases the risk of local side effects such as skin thinning, and those on other parts of the body, such as a decrease in the production of natural steroid hormones by the adrenal glands. For this reason, continuous, long-term use of this medicine should be avoided wherever possible, particularly in children, on the face and on large areas of skin. You should only use airtight dressings over the affected area if instructed by your doctor.
- If you think the area of skin you are treating has become infected you should stop using this medicine and consult your doctor.
Use with caution in
- Children (see above).
- Psoriasis. If you have been prescribed this medicine to treat psoriasis you should have regular check-ups with your doctor. This is because although corticosteroids may be useful for psoriasis in the short-term, they can sometimes make psoriasis worse, and may cause the condition to relapse into generalised pustular psoriasis after the treatment is stopped.
Not to be used in
- Viral skin infections, such as chickenpox, shingles, cold sores or herpes simplex.
- Bacterial skin infections, such as impetigo.
- Fungal skin infections such as thrush, ringworm, athlete's foot.
- Chronic inflammatory disorder of the facial skin (acne rosacea).
- Inflammatory rash around the mouth (perioral dermatitis).
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy. If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- This medicine should not be used during pregnancy unless considered essential by your doctor. If it is prescribed by your doctor it should not be used on large areas of skin, underneath airtight dressings, or for prolonged periods of time. Consult your doctor for further information.
- This medicine should not be used during breastfeeding unless considered essential by your doctor. If it is prescribed by your doctor it should not be used on large areas of skin, underneath airtight dressings or for prolonged periods of time. If it is applied to the breasts it should be washed off carefully before breastfeeding and then reapplied afterwards.
- This medication is to be spread thinly and sparingly on the skin.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect. The following side effects are known to be associated with this medicine.
- Skin irritation, eg redness, rash, itching or burning on application, or allergic inflammation of the skin (contact dermatitis). Stop using this medicine and consult your doctor if you think you have experienced a reaction or your skin condition appears to be getting worse.
- Spread or worsening of untreated infections.
- Thinning of the skin.
- Reduced skin pigmentation.
- Stretch marks (striae).
- Groupings of fine blood vessels becoming prominent under the skin (telangiectasia).
This list may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
This medicine is not known to affect other medicines. However, as with all medicines, it is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already using, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any new medicines while using this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
If you are using other topical medicines or moisturisers on the same area of skin it is recommended that you leave several minutes between applying each product. This is to allow each product time to be absorbed and avoid them mixing on the skin.
If you apply moisturisers shortly before or after applying this medicine these can dilute the corticosteroid and potentially make it less effective. Try to apply your moisturisers at a different time of day, or at least 30 minutes before or after this one.
Other medicines containing the same active ingredients
- Hydromol HC intensive cream.