Clotrimazole, hydrocortisone (Canesten hydrocortisone cream)

How does it work?

Canesten hydrocortisone cream contains two active ingredients, clotrimazole and hydrocortisone. Clotrimazole is an antifungal medicine used to treat infections with fungi and yeasts. Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid medicine that is applied to the skin to relieve the symptoms of inflammation.

Clotrimazole kills fungi and yeasts by interfering with their cell membranes. It works by stopping the fungi from producing a substance called ergosterol, which is an essential component of fungal cell membranes. The disruption in production of ergosterol causes holes to appear in the fungal cell membrane.

The cell membranes of fungi are vital for their survival. They keep unwanted substances from entering the cells and stop the contents of the cells from leaking out. As clotrimazole causes holes to appear in the cell membranes, essential constituents of the fungal cells can leak out. This kills the fungi and treats the infection.

Clotrimazole is used to treat a wide range of skin infections caused by fungi. These include infections with dermatophytes such as tinea, eg athlete's foot (tinea pedis), and infections with yeasts such as candida, eg sweat rash in skin folds (candidal intertrigo).

Hydrocortisone reduces skin inflammation by stopping skin cells from producing various inflammation-causing chemicals that are normally released when the skin reacts to irritation. These inflammation-causing chemicals include prostaglandins and various other inflammatory substances. They cause blood vessels to widen and other inflammatory substances to arrive, resulting in the affected area of skin becoming red, swollen and itchy. By preventing these inflammatory chemicals from being released in the skin, hydrocortisone reduces inflammation and relieves its related symptoms such as redness and itchiness.

Canesten hydrocortisone cream is licensed to treat the fungal skin infections athlete's foot and sweat rash (candidal intertrigo) where symptoms of inflammation, such as itching, require rapid relief.

The cream should be applied thinly and evenly to the affected area(s) of skin twice a day and rubbed in gently. The cream should be used for a maximum of seven days.

If you are using Canesten hydrocortisone cream to treat athlete's foot you should make sure you wash and dry the feet, especially between the toes, before applying the cream. You may also want to use Canesten powder inside your socks and shoes to help treat the infection and prevent it coming back.

What is it used for?

  • Athlete's foot (tinea pedis)
  • Sweat rash in skin folds, caused by infection with Candida albicans (candidal intertrigo).

Canesten hydrocortisone cream should not be used to treat children under 10 years of age, unless prescribed by a doctor.


  • Canesten hydrocortisone cream is for external use only. It should be applied thinly and evenly to the affected area(s).
  • Do not apply to broken skin. The cream should not be used to treat large areas of skin.
  • Avoid contact with the face, eyes, mouth or mucous membranes (eg inside of the nose or mouth).
  • The cream should not be used to treat the anal or genital areas unless prescribed by a doctor.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after applying the cream, unless the hands are the area being treated.
  • The treated area(s) of skin should not be covered with airtight dressings, as this will increase the absorption of hydrocortisone into the body, which could increase the risk of local side effects such as skin thinning (see below). You should only use airtight dressings over the affected area if instructed to by your doctor.
  • This medicine should not be used for longer than seven days at a time. If symptoms persist after seven days of treatment you should consult your doctor.

Not to be used on areas of skin affected by:

  • Ringworm (tinea corporis), unless prescribed by a doctor
  • Untreated bacterial skin infections
  • Viral infections such as chickenpox, shingles, cold sores or herpes simplex
  • Vaccination reactions
  • Acne
  • 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 one or 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 prescribed 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 prescribed 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.

Label warnings

  • This medication is to be spread thinly and sparingly on the skin.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

  • Irritation in area of use
  • Burning sensation

If used for longer than two to four weeks, under airtight dressings or on large areas of skin, the following side effects are also possible:

  • Thinning of the skin
  • Decrease in skin pigmentation
  • Acne
  • Increased hair growth
  • Stretch marks
  • Groupings of fine blood vessels becoming prominent under the skin (telangiectasia)

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the drug'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?

When applied to unbroken skin clotrimazole and hydrocortisone are not known to affect any other medicines.

Other medicines containing the same active ingredients

Canesten HC cream