Fluticasone skin creams

About fluticasone skin creams

Fluticasone cream and ointment are used to treat itching, swollen and irritated skin. They can help with conditions such as:

Fluticasone skin creams are available on prescription only.

They are stronger than other skin creams such as hydrocortisone. Fluticasone cream has more fluticasone in it than the ointment. Although they are different strengths, both work well for treating skin conditions. 

Fluticasone is a type of medicine known as a steroid (also called a corticosteroid). This is not the same as an anabolic steroid.

It also comes as an inhaler, nebuliser, and nasal (nose) spray or drops. Read about:

Key facts

Who can and cannot use fluticasone skin creams

Most adults and children over the age of 3 months can use fluticasone.

Fluticasone may not be suitable for some people. Tell a pharmacist or doctor before taking it if you: 

How and when to use fluticasone skin creams

How much to put on

Fluticasone is available as cream and ointment.

Always follow the instructions from a pharmacist, doctor or the leaflet that comes with your medicine.

Most people only need to use fluticasone cream or ointment once or twice a day for up to 4 weeks. Only use it for longer than 4 weeks if your doctor tells you to.

If you use it twice a day, try to leave a gap of 8 to 12 hours between doses.

The amount of cream or ointment you need to use is sometimes measured in fingertip units. This is the amount of cream or ointment you can squeeze onto the end of your finger.

As a general rule, a fingertip unit of cream is enough to treat an area that's twice the size of the palm of your hand. 

How to apply cream or ointment

For babies and children, the right amount of cream or ointment depends on their age. A doctor or pharmacist can advise you.

  1. Wash your hands and then squeeze out the right amount.
  2. Spread the cream or ointment in a thin layer over the area of irritated skin.
  3. Carefully smooth it into your skin in the direction that your hair grows.
  4. Use the cream or ointment on all the irritated skin, not just the worst areas.
  5. Be careful not to get the cream or ointment on broken skin or cuts.
  6. Wash your hands afterwards (unless you are treating the skin on your hands).

How long will I use it for?

Do not use fluticasone skin cream or ointment at the same time as any other creams or ointments, such as a moisturiser. Wait at least 30 minutes before using any other skin product after you put on fluticasone cream or ointment.

If you need to use a dressing, like a bandage or plaster, wait at least 10 minutes after putting fluticasone on. 

If you're treating a child, do not cover the cream or ointment with dressings or bandages. Using a dressing or bandage can increase the chance of side effects.

Most people only need to use fluticasone cream or ointment for a short time, usually up to 4 weeks. This is to get the inflammation under control.

If your skin condition is hard to control, your doctor may tell you to use fluticasone for more than 4 weeks.

What if I use too much?

Using too much fluticasone by accident is unlikely to harm you.

If you're worried, talk to a doctor or pharmacist.

What if I forget to put it on?

If you forget to use your cream or ointment, do not worry. Use it as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and apply the next one at the usual time.

Side effects

Serious side effects

Fluticasone skin cream and ointment are unlikely to cause any side effects if you follow the instructions.

Some people get a burning or stinging feeling for a few minutes when they put fluticasone on their skin. This stops happening after you've been using it for a few days.

Serious side effects are rare. They happen to less than 1 in 10,000 people who use fluticasone skin cream or ointment. You're more likely to have a serious side effect if you use fluticasone on a large area of skin for a long time.

Using fluticasone for a long time can make your skin thinner or cause stretch marks. Stretch marks are likely to be permanent, but they usually fade over time.

Fluticasone cream contains cetostearyl alcohol, which may cause a skin reaction in the area you are treating.

Stop using fluticasone and tell a doctor immediately if:

Children and teenagers

In very rare cases, using fluticasone for a long time can slow the normal growth of children and teenagers.

Your child's doctor will monitor their height and weight carefully if they need to use this medicine often. This will help them to notice if your child's growth is being affected and they can change the treatment if needed.

Talk to your doctor if you're worried. They will be able to explain the benefits and risks of your child using fluticasone.

Serious allergic reaction

It happens rarely but it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to fluticasone.

These are not all the side effects of fluticasone. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Fluticasone and breastfeeding

There's not enough research into fluticasone to know if it's safe to use in pregnancy.

If you're pregnant, or trying for a baby, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of using fluticasone.

Read more about how using corticosteroid cream or ointment, like fluticasone, might affect you and your baby during pregnancy from the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPs) website.

Fluticasone cream or ointment is generally OK to use when breastfeeding.

If you're using fluticasone on your breasts, wash off any medicine from your breasts, then wash your hands before feeding your baby.

It's usually better to use cream rather than ointment when breastfeeding, as it's easier to wash off.

Cautions with other medicines

Mixing fluticasone with herbal remedies and supplements

It's very unlikely that other medicines will interfere with the way fluticasone creams work.

However, tell a pharmacist or doctor if you're taking:

There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements while taking or using fluticasone. Ask a pharmacist for advice.

Common questions

How does fluticasone work? When will my skin get better? How long can I use fluticasone for? Why should I not use fluticasone on my face? Is it safe to use for a long time? Can fluticasone make eczema worse? Can I still have vaccinations? Can I drink alcohol while using it? Is there any food or drink I need to avoid? Will it affect my fertility? Will it affect my contraception? Can I drive or ride a bike?