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

This is a combination medication containing two ingredients: betamethasone and salicylic acid. It is used to treat skin and scalp conditions such as dermatitis and eczema.

Betamethasone belongs to the family of medications known as corticosteroids. It works by reducing itching and inflammation.

Salicylic acid belongs to the family of medications known as keratolytics. It works by breaking down dead skin cells.

Improvement in the skin condition is usually noticed within a week. If you don't see any improvement, contact your doctor.

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.

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What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram contains 0.64 mg of betamethasone dipropionate USP, equivalent to 0.5 mg of betamethasone USP and 20 mg of salicylic acid. Nonmedicinal ingredients: edetate disodium, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, isopropyl alcohol, water, and sodium hydroxide to adjust pH to approximately 5.

Each gram contains 0.64 mg of betamethasone dipropionate USP, equivalent to 0.5 mg of betamethasone USP and 30 mg of salicylic acid. Nonmedicinal ingredients: white petrolatum and mineral oil. Paraben-free.

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How should I use this medication?

Lotion: The lotion is used for skin conditions affecting the scalp. Apply a thin film to completely cover the affected areas of the scalp. The lotion is usually used twice daily. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you apply it once daily. Do not wash the affected area for several hours after applying the lotion. Do not let this medication get in your eyes. If contact with an eye occurs, flush the eye with plenty of water and consult your doctor. Do not take this medication by mouth.

Ointment: The ointment is used for skin conditions that do not affect the scalp. Apply the ointment to the affected area of the skin. It should then be massaged gently and thoroughly into the skin. It is usually applied twice daily. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you apply it once daily. Avoid getting the medication in your eyes, and do not take this medication by mouth.

For some cases of psoriasis and certain other conditions, your doctor may advise you to cover the area 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.

Many things can affect the dose of a 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 ones listed here, 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 of this medication, apply it as soon as you remember it. 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.

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.

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Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to betamethasone, salicylic acid, or any  ingredients of the medication
  • have a skin infection caused by viruses, including herpes, vaccinia, and varicella (chickenpox)
  • have tuberculosis skin lesions
  • have untreated infected skin lesions caused by an infection with fungi or bacteria
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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 or skin (usually mild and temporary)
  • increased redness or scaling of skin sores (usually mild and temporary)
  • skin rash (usually mild and temporary)

Although most of these 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:

  • drowsiness
  • hearing changes
  • increased skin sensitivity
  • lack of healing of skin condition
  • nausea
  • ongoing burning, itching and irritation of skin
  • itchy rash with small, red, raised bumps
  • skin discoloration
  • skin infection
  • "spider veins" or blood vessels visible through the skin
  • thinning of skin with easy bruising
  • vision changes

Additional side effects may occur if you use this medication improperly, for a long time or over a large area of your body. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects occur:

  • acne or oily skin
  • backache
  • blurring or loss of vision (occurs gradually if medication has been used near the eye)
  • burning and itching of skin with pinhead-sized red blisters
  • depression
  • eye pain (if medication has been used near the eye)
  • filling or rounding out of the face
  • increased blood pressure
  • 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 (stretch marks) on arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • skin colour changes
  • softening of skin
  • stomach bloating, burning, cramping, or pain
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • tearing of the skin
  • 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)
  • 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 use this medication.

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

Absorption: Medications containing topical (applied to the skin) corticosteroids such as betamethasone - salicylic acid are known to be absorbed into the bloodstream if used for prolonged periods of time on large areas of the body. Absorption is more likely when the medication is covered with a bandage that doesn't breathe. This increases the risk of side effects throughout the body from this medication. Therefore, it is best to use this medication only for brief periods and to stop using it as soon as the problem clears.

Eyes: Use this medication with caution on lesions close to the eye. Take care to ensure that it does not enter the eye, as glaucoma may result. Cataracts have been reported following internal use of corticosteroids. Report changes in your vision to your doctor as soon as possible.

Infection: Betamethasone - salicylic acid should not be used on any infected area until the infection has cleared. Topical corticosteroids may increase the risk of developing a skin infection. If you notice any increased redness, swelling, heat, or pain around the area where the medication is applied, contact your doctor, as these are possible signs of infection.

Stopping this medication: Suddenly stopping corticosteroid medication may cause your skin condition to return. If you have been using this medication or a similar one for a long period of time, discuss with your doctor, the best way to discontinue the medication.

Thinning of skin: Using topical corticosteroid medications for a long period of time can cause skin and the tissues underneath to thin or soften, or can cause stretch marks. Your doctor may recommend you stop using this medication once in a while or to apply to one area of the body at a time to give the skin a chance to strengthen. If you notice changes to the texture or colour of your skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible, as this may be a sign that the medication needs to be reduced.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while using this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if topical betamethasone - salicylic acid 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: Betamethasone belongs to the family of medications known as corticosteroids. Children may be more likely to experience the side effects encountered by using large amounts this class medication for long periods of time (e.g., slowing down of growth, delayed weight gain). The use of this medication by children should be limited to the smallest amount that will be effective, for the shortest period of time. Discuss the risks and benefits of the use of this medication by children with your doctor.

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What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between betamethasone - salicylic acid and any of the following:

  • other topical medications that contain corticosteroids
  • topical medications 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.