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Fluocinolone, Topical Cream

Highlights for fluocinolone

  1. Fluocinolone cream is available as a brand-name drug and a generic drug. Brand name: Synalar.
  2. Fluocinolone comes in five forms: cream, ointment, solution, shampoo, and oil. It’s a topical medication, which means it’s applied to the skin.
  3. Fluocinolone cream is used to treat skin symptoms such as itching, redness, or swelling. These symptoms can be caused by allergies or other skin problems.
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Important warnings

Important warnings

  • Adrenal insufficiency warning: Fluocinolone cream can cause adrenal insufficiency. With this condition, the adrenal glands don’t make enough steroid hormones. This typically occurs after you stop using this drug. Your risk of adrenal insufficiency increases if you use fluocinolone cream for a long period of time or over a large part of your body. Your doctor may stop your use of this medication if you have symptoms of this condition (see below).
  • Cushing's syndrome warning: Fluocinolone cream is applied to your skin, but some of the medication can be absorbed through the skin into your bloodstream. This can cause too much steroid to collect in your body, resulting in a condition called Cushing’s syndrome. To help prevent this condition, don’t cover your skin with airtight bandages. Also, avoid long-term use of this drug, and avoid using it over large areas of skin unless directed by your doctor.
  • Skin infections warning: Use of fluocinolone cream raises your risk of skin infection. 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 does not go away, your doctor may stop your use of fluocinolone until the infection has healed.
  • Skin problems warning: Long-term use of fluocinolone cream may cause thinning of the skin and nearby tissues. Ask your doctor how long it’s safe for you to use this drug.

About

What is fluocinolone?

Fluocinolone is a prescription drug. It comes in five forms: cream, ointment, solution, shampoo, and oil.

Fluocinolone cream is available as the brand-name drug Synalar. It’s also available in a generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name drug.

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

Why it's used

Fluocinolone cream is used to treat skin symptoms such as itching, redness, and swelling. These symptoms can be caused by allergies or other skin problems.

How it works

Fluocinolone cream belongs to a class of drugs called topical 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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Side effects

Fluocinolone side effects

Fluocinolone cream doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of fluocinolone cream include problems with the treated skin, such as:

  • drying or cracking
  • redness
  • irritation
  • acne
  • itching
  • burning
  • lightened skin color

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 911 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:

  • Severe skin rash. Symptoms can include:
    • red, itchy, irritated skin
  • Skin infections. Symptoms can include:
    • red, swollen skin
    • warmth
    • pain at treatment site
  • Cushing’s syndrome. Symptoms can include:
    • roundness of the face (known as moon face)
    • weight gain, especially around the midsection
    • hump on the back between your shoulders
    • pink or purple stretch marks on your stomach, thighs, arms, and chest
  • Adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms can include:
    • For external use only
      Fluocinolone cream should only be used on the outside of the body. Avoid getting it in or near your eyes.
    • tiredness
    • muscle weakness
    • weight loss
    • dizziness
    • fainting

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not 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.

Interactions

Fluocinolone may interact with other medications

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 fluocinolone cream 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 can not 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.

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Other warnings

Fluocinolone warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Fluocinolone cream can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • swelling of your lips, tongue, face, or throat
  • chest tightness
  • trouble breathing
  • itching

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with skin infections: If you have a current infection, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal medication. If the infection does not go away, your doctor may stop your use of fluocinolone cream until the infection has healed.

For people with rosacea or perioral dermatitis: Don’t use fluocinolone cream to treat rosacea (facial redness that comes and goes). Also, don’t use it to treat perioral dermatitis (rash around the mouth).

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women:

  • Fluocinolone is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things: Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  • 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.

If you become pregnant while using this drug, call your doctor right away.

When to call the doctor
Call your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or your condition gets worse.

For women who are breastfeeding: It isn’t known if fluocinolone is passed into breast milk and causes side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

For children: Children are at increased risk of side effects from use of fluocinolone cream.

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Dosage

How to take fluocinolone

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

Dosage for allergies and other skin problems

Generic: Fluocinolone

  • Form: topical cream
  • Strengths: 0.025%, 0.01%

Brand: Synalar

  • Form: topical cream
  • Strengths: 0.025%, 0.01%

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • Apply a thin film of cream to the affected area 2–4 times per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

  • There are no specific dosing recommendations for the use of fluocinolone cream in people younger than 18 years.
  • Fluocinolone cream should be used with caution in people younger than 18 years. They are at increased risk of side effects.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Fluocinolone is used for short-term or long-term treatment. The length of therapy depends on the condition being treated.

This drug comes with risks if you don’t use it as prescribed.

If you stop using the drug suddenly or don’t use it at all: Your symptoms, such as skin itching, redness, or swelling, may not improve or may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t use the drug on schedule: Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely.

If you use too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of using too much of this drug can include:

  • severe skin rash
  • skin infections, with symptoms such as red, swollen skin
  • symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, such as roundness of your face, weight gain, or a hump between your shoulders
  • symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as tiredness, muscle weakness, weight loss, dizziness, or fainting

If you think you’ve used too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose: Use your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, use only one dose. Never try to catch up by using two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working: Your skin problems should improve.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking fluocinolone

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes fluocinolone for you.

General

  • Use this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor.

Storage

  • Store fluocinolone cream at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Protect this medication from light.
  • Don’t freeze this medication.
  • Keep the cream container tightly closed.

Refills

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 harm your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled container 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.

Self-management

  • This drug should be used on the outside of your body only.
  • Avoid contact with your eyes.
  • Don’t use this medication on your face, genitals, rectal area, skin creases, or armpits.
  • When applying the cream to hairy sites, part the hair to allow direct contact with the affected area.
  • Don’t bandage, cover, or wrap the treated skin area unless directed by your doctor.
  • Your doctor may ask you to cover the affected area with a bandage or a wrap after applying the medication. Only do this if your doctor tells you to do so.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor you for infections, with symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting

Your doctor may also do blood or urine tests to check for Cushing’s syndrome or adrenal insufficiency. These tests may include a:

  • urinary free cortisol
  • ACTH stimulation test
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Alternatives

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.

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 here in 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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