Fluocinonide | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

fluocinonide, Topical cream

All Brands

  • Lidex (Discontinued)
  • Lidex -E (Discontinued)
  • Vanos
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for fluocinonide

Topical cream
1

Fluocinonide is used to treat skin conditions that may cause itching, redness, and inflammation (swelling and irritation). These conditions include allergies, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.

2

Fluocinonide comes in the form of a cream, gel, ointment, and liquid solution.

3

Fluocinonide cream is available as the brand-name drug Vanos. All forms are available as generic drugs.

4

The more common side effects that can occur with this drug include headache and burning, itching, irritation, or dryness of the treated skin.

5

Fluocinonide should only be used on the outside of the body. Avoid getting it in or near your eyes. It shouldn’t be used on the face, groin, or underarms. Wash your hands thoroughly after using this medication.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Adrenal insufficiency

With this condition, the adrenal glands don’t make enough steroid hormones. Your risk of adrenal insufficiency is increased if you use fluocinonide for a long period of time (typically more than two weeks in a row) or over a large part of your body. This condition can be serious. Symptoms can include dizziness, weakness, loss of appetite, or stomach upset. Your doctor may stop this medication if you have symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. This condition can also occur after treatment with this drug has stopped.

Cushing’s syndrome

Fluocinonide is meant to be absorbed into your skin. However, it may be absorbed into your bloodstream. This can cause Cushing’s syndrome, a condition where your body makes too much of the stress hormone cortisol. Symptoms of this serious condition include a moon-shaped face and a lump of fat between the shoulders. Cushing’s syndrome can also cause high blood sugar and high blood pressure. To help prevent this condition, don’t cover your skin with airtight bandages. Also, avoid long-term use (typically longer than two weeks), and avoid using over large areas of skin unless directed by your doctor.

Skin infections

If you have a current infection or develop a new bacterial or fungal infection, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal drug. If the infection doesn’t go away, your doctor may stop fluocinonide until the infection has healed.

External use only

Avoid getting fluocinonide into or near your eyes. It shouldn’t be used on the face, groin, or underarms. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using this medication.

What is fluocinonide?

Fluocinonide is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a cream, gel, ointment, or solution.

Fluocinonide cream is available as the brand-name drug Vanos. All forms are available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

Fluocinonide may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to use it with other medications.

Why it's used

Fluocinonide is used to decrease itching, redness, and swelling caused by certain skin problems. These problems include allergies or psoriasis (a build-up of skin cells that form scales and itchy, dry patches).

More Details

How it works

Fluocinonide belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

Why it’s used

Fluocinonide is used to decrease itching, redness, and swelling caused by certain skin problems. These problems include allergies or psoriasis (a build-up of skin cells that form scales and itchy, dry patches). They also include atopic dermatitis (a long-lasting skin problem that causes itching and a red, swollen rash).

How it works

Fluocinonide belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Corticosteroids may work by reducing the body’s production of certain chemicals. These chemicals, called prostaglandins and leukotrienes, cause swelling and itching in the body.

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fluocinonide Side Effects

Topical cream

More common side effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of fluocinonide include:

  • headache

  • skin irritation at the site of application, including:

    • burning
    • itching
    • dryness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms can include:

    • tiredness that worsens and doesn’t go away
    • nausea or vomiting
    • dizziness
    • fainting
    • muscle weakness
    • feeling irritable
    • depression
    • loss of appetite
    • weight loss
  • Cushing’s syndrome. Symptoms can include:

    • weight gain, especially around the upper back and midsection
    • slow healing of wounds, cuts, insect bites, or infections
    • tiredness and muscle weakness
    • feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable
    • roundness of the face (moon face)
    • new or worsening high blood pressure
  • Inflammation of the hair follicles and sweat glands

  • More growth of body hair than normal

  • New acne

  • Loss of skin color

  • Skin inflammation (reddening and irritation) around the mouth

  • New skin infection

  • Thinning of the skin

  • Stretch marks

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Fluocinonide doesn’t cause drowsiness.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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fluocinonide May Interact with Other Medications

Topical cream

An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. To help prevent interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking.

To find out how fluocinonide might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Fluocinonide warnings
People with skin infections
People with skin infections

If you have a current infection or develop a new bacterial or fungal infection, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal medication. If the infection doesn’t go away, your doctor may stop your treatment with fluocinonide until the infection has healed.

People with rosacea or perioral dermatitis
People with rosacea or perioral dermatitis

Don’t use fluocinonide to treat rosacea (facial redness that comes and goes). Also, don’t use it to treat perioral dermatitis (rash around the mouth).

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

Fluocinonide is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if fluocinonide passes into breast milk and causes side effects in a child who is breast-fed. Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For children
For children
  • It hasn’t been confirmed that fluocinonide is safe and effective for use in children younger than 12 years.
  • Children may absorb higher amounts of fluocinonide than adults. This puts them at higher risk of serious side effects. If high amounts of fluocinonide are absorbed by a child’s body over a long period of time, growth and development can be delayed. If your child needs to use this medication long-term (for weeks to months), your child’s doctor should monitor his or her growth.
When to call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • Your rash doesn’t improve or if your redness, swelling or itching gets worse.
  • The site where you apply fluocinonide shows signs of being infected (redness, warmth, swelling, or pain).
  • You become pregnant while taking this drug.
Allergies
Allergies

Fluocinonide can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • swelling of your eyes, face, lips, throat, or tongue
  • hives
  • itching
  • trouble breathing
  • rash

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it.

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How to Take fluocinonide (Dosage)

Topical cream

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Itching, redness, and swelling that results from skin problems

Brand: Vanos

Form: Cream
Strength: 0.1%

Generic: fluocinonide

Form: Cream, gel, ointment, solution
Strength: 0.05%
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and over)
  • Vanos 0.1% cream:
    • Typical dosage: Apply a thin layer to the affected skin areas once or twice per day as directed by your doctor.
  • Fluocinonide 0.05% cream, gel, ointment, and solution:
    • Typical dosage: Apply a thin film to the affected areas 2–4 times per day as directed by your doctor.
Child dosage (ages 12–17 years)
  • Vanos 0.1% cream:
    • Typical dosage: Apply a thin layer to the affected skin areas once or twice per day as directed by your child’s doctor.
  • Fluocinonide 0.05% cream, gel, ointment, and solution:
    • Typical dosage: Apply a thin film to the affected areas 2–4 times per day as directed by your child’s doctor.
Child dosage (ages 0–11 years)
  • Vanos 0.1% cream:
    • It hasn’t been confirmed if fluocinonide 0.1% cream is safe and effective for use in children younger than 12 years.
  • Fluocinonide 0.05% cream, gel, ointment, and solution:
    • Typical dosage: Apply a thin film to the affected areas 2–4 times per day as directed by your child’s doctor.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
  • Apply fluocinonide to your skin only. Avoid getting fluocinonide into your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Don’t apply fluocinonide on your face, underarms, or groin area unless told to do so by your doctor.
  • Apply only a thin film of the medication. It’s very strong and a small amount is effective.
  • Clean and dry the affected area before applying fluocinonide.
  • Wash your hands before and after use. If applying to your hands, don’t wash your hands after applying fluocinonide
  • Don’t cover the treated area with bandages or dressing unless told to do so by your doctor.

Fluocinonide comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

Your symptoms, such as redness and itching, may not improve or may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be applied to the affected areas until they’re completely healed.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include increased side effects, such as:

  • Adrenal insufficiency, with symptoms including:
    • tiredness that worsens and doesn’t go away
    • nausea or vomiting
    • dizziness
    • fainting
    • muscle weakness
    • irritability
    • depression
    • loss of appetite
    • weight loss
  • Cushing’s syndrome, with symptoms including:
    • weight gain, especially around the upper back and abdomen (stomach area)
    • slow healing of wounds, cuts, insect bites, or infections
    • tiredness and muscle weakness
    • depression, anxiety, or irritability
    • roundness of the face (moon face)
    • new or worsening high blood pressure

This medication may also cause harm if swallowed. If you think you or your child has swallowed this medication or used too much of it, call your doctor or local poison control center. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Apply fluocinonide as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, go back to your regular schedule. Never apply more than the recommended amount, as that would raise your risk of side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms should improve.

Fluocinonide is used for short-term or long-term treatment. How long you use it depends on the medical condition you have.

Important considerations for taking fluocinonide
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
Store this drug carefully
Store this drug carefully
See Details
A prescription for this medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
Travel
Travel
See Details
Clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
Insurance
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store fluocinonide 0.1% cream at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Store fluocinonide 0.05% cream, gel, ointment, and solution at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t freeze this medication.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor your health while you take this drug. They may check your:

  • Hormone levels: In rare cases, fluocinonide may affect your body’s hormone levels. Your doctor may do certain tests to make sure your body’s hormone levels are within the normal range. These tests may include:
    • ACTH-stimulation test
    • blood cortisol test
    • urine free cortisol test
  • Growth rate: In rare cases, long-term use (for weeks to months) of fluocinonide may slow a child’s growth. If your child is using this medication, your child’s doctor will monitor their height and growth.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does fluocinonide Cost?

Topical cream

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Lowest price for fluocinonide

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for fluocinonide on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for fluocinonide on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 29, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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