How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Betamethasone valerate belongs to the class of medications called topical corticosteroids. It is used to treat skin irritation and itch caused by skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and seborrhea. It works by reducing redness, inflammation, swelling, and irritation of the skin.
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 gram of white, homogeneous smooth, odourless cream contains betamethasone 0.05% (as betamethasone valerate USP) in a water-miscible base. Nonmedicinal ingredients: caprylic/capric triglyceride, ceteareth-12, ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol, glycerin, methylparaben, propylparaben, and purified water.
Each gram of white, homogeneous, odourless lotion contains betamethasone valerate USP 1.22 mg (equivalent to betamethasone 1 mg [0.1%]). Nonmedicinal ingredients: cetostearyl alcohol, ethylene glycol distearate, glycerin, guar gum, hydrochloric acid, isopropyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate, macrogol cetostearyl ether, methylparaben, propylparaben, and purified water.
Each gram of white, homogeneous, odourless lotion, contains betamethasone valerate USP 0.61 mg (equivalent to betamethasone 0.5 mg [0.05%]). Nonmedicinal ingredients: cetostearyl alcohol, ethylene glycol distearate, glycerin, guar gum, hydrochloric acid, isopropyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate, macrogol cetostearyl-20, methylparaben, propylparaben, and purified water.
Each gram of translucent, homogeneous lotion with a strong odour of alcohol contains betamethasone valerate USP 1.22 mg (equivalent to betamethasone 1 mg [0.1%]). Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, carbomer, carboxypolymethylene, EDTA disodium, isopropyl alcohol, purified water, and triethanolamine.
How should I use this medication?
Cream or ointment: Apply enough cream or ointment to completely cover the affected area with a thin film. Massage it gently and thoroughly into the skin. This medication is usually applied once daily in the morning, or twice daily (in the morning and at night) as directed by the doctor. The treatment should be stopped when the condition is cleared. The medication should not be continued for a period longer than 4 weeks without further consultation with your doctor.
Lotion: Apply a few drops of lotion or enough to thinly cover the affected area. The lotion should be gently massaged into the area until it disappears. The lotion is usually applied once or twice.
Wash your hands after applying this medication unless you are treating your hands.
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 ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.
Shake the lotion well before applying it to the affected area.
Do not cover the area with an occlusive dressing (a dressing that doesn't breathe) unless directed to do so by your doctor.
Avoid applying the medication in or near the eyes.
It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss an application, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next application, skip the missed application 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 out of 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 use this medication if you:
- are allergic to betamethasone or any ingredients of the medication
- have a skin infection caused by viruses, including herpes simplex, vaccinia, and varicella (chickenpox)
- have had an allergic reaction to other corticosteroid medications
- have untreated infected skin lesions caused by an infection with fungi or bacteria
- have tuberculosis of the skin
Do not apply this medication around the mouth, to the eye, or on or around the anal and genital area.
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)
- skin rash (usually mild and temporary)
- stinging sensation when applied (lotion only)
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:
- increased skin sensitivity
- lack of healing of skin condition
- ongoing burning, itching and irritation of skin
- itchy rash with small, red, raised bumps
- skin discolouration
- 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 improperly or for long periods of time. Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
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.
Absorption: Topical (applied to the skin) corticosteroids such as betamethasone are known to be absorbed into the bloodstream, especially if used for prolonged periods of time on large areas of the body. It is advisable to use betamethasone for brief periods of time only 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 or cataracts may result. Report any changes in your vision to your doctor, as soon as possible.
Infections: Betamethasone should not be used on any infected area until the infection has cleared. Corticosteroids applied to the skin 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 for a long period of time, discuss with your doctor the best way to discontinue the medication.
Thinning of skin: Using topical corticosteroid medication for a long period of time can cause skin and the tissues underneath to thin or soften, or 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.
Pregnancy: Betamethasone 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 betamethasone applied to the skin 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. If this medication is used, it should not be applied to the breast in order to avoid the baby getting this medication in their mouth.
Children: Betamethasone belongs to the family of medications known as corticosteroids. Children may be more likely to experience side effects (e.g., slowing down of growth, delayed weight gain), especially if large amounts of this medication are used for long periods of time. 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.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between betamethasone and any of the following:
- medications applied to the skin that have irritating effects
- other topical medications that contain corticosteroids
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.