How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Desonide belongs to the group of medications known as topical corticosteroids. It is used to treat various skin conditions, including rashes. It works by reducing inflammation and itching.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each bottle contains desonide 0.05% in a water base lotion. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate SE, methyl paraben, mineral oil, propyl paraben, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium lauryl sulfate, sorbitan monostearate, stearyl alcohol, and tetrasodium EDTA. May contain sodium hydroxide and/or citric acid to adjust pH.

Each tube contains desonide 0.05%. Nonmedicinal ingredients: mineral oil and polyethylene.

How should I use this medication?

The usual recommended dose of desonide is 2 or 3 daily applications rubbed gently onto the affected area, or use as directed by your doctor.

Shake the lotion form of this medication well before applying it.

For treatment of certain conditions (e.g., psoriasis), your doctor may advise you to cover the area being treated with an occlusive dressing (a dressing that doesn't breathe), such as plastic wrap, for more effective treatment. If your doctor has not suggested this, do not cover the area as this may cause unwanted effects. If an infection occurs in this area, remove the dressing and call your doctor as soon as possible.

Do not apply desonide in or near the eyes.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the suggestion above, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to desonide or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • have any viral skin lesions
  • have chickenpox
  • have herpes simplex
  • have tuberculosis of the skin
  • have untreated fungal or bacterial skin lesions
  • have vaccinia

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • burning, dryness, irritation, itching, or redness of skin (usually mild and temporary)
  • increased redness or scaling of skin sores (usually mild and temporary)
  • mild, temporary stinging at the site of application (lotion only)
  • skin rash (usually mild and temporary)

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blood-containing blisters on skin
  • burning and itching of skin
  • lack of healing of skin condition
  • painful, red or itchy, pus-containing blisters in hair follicles
  • skin discoloration
  • skin infection
  • "spider veins" or blood vessels visible through the skin
  • thinning of skin with easy bruising

Additional side effects may occur if this medication is used for long periods of time. Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • acne or oily skin
  • backache
  • blurring or loss of vision (occurs gradually if used near the eye)
  • burning and itching of skin with pinhead-sized red blisters
  • depression
  • eye pain (if used near the eye)
  • filling or rounding of the face
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased hair growth, especially on the face and body
  • increased loss of hair, especially on the scalp
  • irregular heartbeat
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • irritability
  • irritation of skin around mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle cramps, pain, or weakness
  • nausea
  • rapid weight gain or loss
  • reddish-purple lines on arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • redness and scaling around the mouth
  • softening of the skin
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • tearing of the skin
  • thinning of skin with easy bruising
  • unusual bruising
  • unusual decrease in sexual desire or ability (in men)
  • unusual increase in hair growth, especially on the face
  • unusual loss of hair, especially on the scalp
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weakness of the arms, legs, or trunk (severe)
  • white spots
  • worsening of infections

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should apply this medication.

Tell all health professionals involved in your care that you have been using topical (skin-applied) corticosteroids.

Absorption: When desonide is used over large areas for prolonged periods and under dressings that don't breathe, it is possible that enough medication will absorb into the bloodstream to cause unwanted side effects. Therefore, it is advisable to use desonide for brief periods only and to stop using it as soon as the problem clears.

Infection: Corticosteroids, such as desonide, that are applied to the skin may increase the risk of developing a skin infection. Contact your doctor if you notice any increased redness, swelling, heat, or pain around the area where the medication is applied, as these are possible signs of infection.

Pregnancy: Desonide should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Topical corticosteroids should not be used by pregnant women over large areas of the body, in large amounts, or for prolonged periods of time. If you become pregnant while using this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if desonide passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: Children may be more likely to experience the side effects when using this medication. The use of this medication by children should be limited to the smallest amount that will be effective. Discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of the use of this medication by children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between desonide and any of the following:

  • other medications applied to the skin that contain corticosteroids or that have irritating effects

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.