Hydrocortisone is used to fight inflammation, allergic reactions, diseases involving the collagen, asthma, adrenal insufficiency, certain forms of cancer, and Addison's disease. It is also used to treat autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.


What is Hydrocortisone?

Hydrocortisone is the main glucocorticoid produced by the adrenal cortex. It acts by binding to its receptors within cells. It promotes the movement of specific genes that in turn results in the activation of anti-inflammatory molecules and the simultaneous inhibition of the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules.


How should Hydrocortisone be taken?

Hydrocortisone may be administered topically (applied to the skin), orally (on a full stomach in order to reduce the possibility of irritation) or in the form of injections.


Side effects associated with Hydrocortisone

When applied topically, Hydrocortisone can dehydrate the skin or trigger acne, itching, skin changes and burns. The injections can cause other side effects such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Increased sweating
  • Hair growth
  • Acne and skin redness
  • Increased bruising
  • Appearance of small purple spots on the skin
  • Menstrual irregularities or even complete disappearance of the menstrual cycle


When taken orally, Hydrocortisone may instead be associated with symptoms such as stomach aches, vomiting, headache, dizziness, insomnia, agitation, depression, anxiety, acne, increased hair growth, increased bruising and changes in menstrual cycle.


In general, you should immediately contact a doctor if the drug triggers:

  • Rash or skin infections
  • Swelling in the face, calves or ankles
  • Vision problems or eye pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Colds or infections that last long
  • Weakness and muscle aches
  • Bleeding
  • Dark stools


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Hydrocortisone

Long-term use of Hydrocortisone may increase the need for calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E, and zinc.


Before taking the drug, it is important to inform your doctor:

  • If you have any drug allergies
  • If you are taking any medicinal products, herbal remedies or supplements. Mentioning in particular: anticoagulants, arthritis medications, aspirin, cyclosporine, digoxin, diuretics, estrogen, ketoconazole, oral contraceptives, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, theophylline, vitamins and in the case of topical use products or other medicines applied to the skin
  • If you suffer (or have suffered) from fungal infections, kidney disease, liver disease, intestinal disease or cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, glaucoma, clotting problems, immune disorders, psychiatric disease, myasthenia gravis, osteoporosis, ocular herpes, convulsions, tuberculosis, AIDS or ulcers
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding


It is important to inform surgeons and dentists of any ongoing treatment with Hydrocortisone.