Clobetasol (Dermovate cream/ointment)
How does it work?
Dermovate cream and ointment both contain the active ingredient clobetasol propionate, which is a type of medicine called a topical corticosteroid.
Corticosteroids are medicines used for reducing inflammation. Inflammation of the skin happens due to 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, resulting in the irritated area becoming red, swollen, itchy and painful, such as is seen in dermatitis or eczema.
When clobetasol is applied to the skin it works by acting inside the skin cells to decrease the release of these inflammatory substances. This reduces swelling, redness and itch.
There is a range of potencies of corticosteroids applied to the skin. Clobetasol propionate is classed as a very potent corticosteroid. It is prescribed to treat severe inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis that have not responded to weaker corticosteroids.
Dermovate ointment is more greasy than the cream. It is more suitable for very dry, scaly areas of skin, whereas moist or weepy skin is best treated with the cream.
What is it used for?
Dermovate cream and ointment are used in short courses to treat severe inflammatory skin disorders, such as those listed below, when milder corticosteroids have not been effective.
- Skin disorder called lichen planus, in which there are patches on the skin that appear as flat-topped, shiny, almost violet itchy areas.
- Skin disorder called discoid lupus erythematosus, which is caused by the immune system attacking the skin.
How do I use it?
- Dermovate cream or ointment should be applied thinly to the affected areas of skin once or twice a day to start with. As soon as the condition starts to improve, you should use it less frequently, as directed by your doctor. 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 or ointment under a fresh dressing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after applying this medicine, unless the hands are the area being treated.
- Dermovate should not be used for longer than four weeks at a time. However, if you are applying this medicine to the face or to a child's skin, it should preferably not be used for longer than five days at a time. If your skin condition has not improved after two to four weeks of treatment you should consult your doctor. Repeat courses maybe necessary to control flare-ups of your skin condition, but should only be started on the advice of 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.
- Dermovate cream and ointment are for external use on the affected areas of skin only.
- You should never use Dermovate as a moisturiser.
- Avoid getting the cream or ointment in the eyes, or inside the mouth or nose. Rinse with cold water if accidental contact occurs.
- If corticosteroids are used long-term, on large areas of skin, raw or broken skin, skin folds, or under airtight dressings 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 hormones by the adrenal glands. For this reason, continuous, long-term use of this medicine should be avoided wherever possible, particularly in children and on large areas of skin. You should only use airtight dressings over the affected area if instructed by your doctor. If there is no improvement in your skin after two to four weeks of treatment you should consult your doctor.
- If this medicine is used on the face, wherever possible it should not be used for longer than five days. You should not use airtight dressings to cover the area treated.
- If used in children, wherever possible this medicine should not be used for longer than five days, or on the face. You should not use airtight dressings to cover the area treated. Be aware that children's nappies can also act as an airtight dressing and can increase the absorption of the medicine. Children being treated with this medicine should be reviewed by the doctor at least once a week.
- 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 warnings 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
- Children less than one year of age.
- 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).
- Itching around the back passage and genitals.
- Widespread plaque psoriasis.
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.
- Thinning of the skin.
- Reduced skin pigmentation.
- Stretch marks (striae).
- Groupings of fine blood vessels becoming prominent under the skin (telangiectasia).
- Excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis).
- Spread or worsening of untreated infections.
- Prolonged use of this medicine on extensive areas of skin, broken or raw skin, skin folds or underneath airtight dressings may on rare occasions result in enough corticosteroid being absorbed to have side effects on other parts of the body, for example a decrease in the production of natural hormones by the adrenal glands or symptoms of Cushing's syndrome. See warning section above.
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 ingredient
- Clarelux foam.
- Dermovate scalp application.
- Etrivex shampoo.