In this drug factsheet:
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:
- acne or oily skin
- blurring or loss of vision (occurs gradually if medication has been used near the eye)
- changes in skin colour
- eye pain (if medication has been used near the eye)
- filling or rounding out 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
- loss of appetite
- muscle cramps, pain, or weakness
- pus in the hair follicles
- 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
- stomach bloating, burning, cramping, or pain
- 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 tiredness or weakness
- 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 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.