Is It Safe To Use Hydrocortisone Creams On Babies?

Babies and toddlers are prone to numerous mild illnesses and that can be a mild skin disease, mild flu, colic, and others. The skin conditions are many and the most common being cradle cap, insect bites, diaper rash, allergic reaction, baby acne, baby eczema, and so on.

Hydrocortisone creams are used to alleviate many skin conditions. On babies, they should be used only after consulting a pediatrician.

According to the National Eczema Association, excessive exposure to hydrocortisone creams in children is linked with slower growth and delayed weight gain.(1)

What Is Hydrocortisone Cream?

Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid compound that is used to control the symptoms of numerous dermatological conditions. It is very important to know the benefits and side effects of using these on babies.

There are many ways of using hydrocortisone. Commonly it is used in the form of cream and can also be used as:

  • Spray
  • Ointment
  • Liquid
  • Lotion

Hydrocortisone cream is used to manage skin discomforts such as redness, itching, and swelling associated with skin rashes, eczema, insect sting or bites, and psoriasis.

Hydrocortisone cream is easily available as an over-the-counter medication and does not even require a prescription.

Are Hydrocortisone Creams Safe To Be Used For Babies?

Whether or not to use hydrocortisone creams on babies has been speculated for long.

They are mostly recommended for kids above 2 years of age and adults. It needs to be used on a baby’s delicate skin with precautions. It is because the chemical present in it gets concentrated after getting absorbed through the skin. Its prolonged usage may be dangerous for the kids.

Usage of hydrocortisone cream on the diaper area of the baby is not recommended.(4)

Benefits of Hydrocortisone Cream On Infants

  • If a child is suffering from an inflammatory skin condition, hydrocortisone cream has many benefits to serve.
  • It calms the external symptoms such as inflammation, heat rash, redness, and itching.
  • It also provides relief from eczema, insect bites, dermatitis, and many more.

The recommended concentration of hydrocortisone in a cream recommended for a baby older than two is 1%.(5)

In some, the doctors might use a higher concentration. But, before using hydrocortisone cream on a baby, it is a must to seek a doctor’s advice.

How Many Times Can You Apply Hydrocortisone Cream On The Baby’s Skin?

  • In most of the kids, the pediatrician recommends applying hydrocortisone once or twice a day.
  • It can be applied in the morning and then at night or giving a gap of 10 or 12 hours between 2 applications.
  • If used regularly the difference is visible in 4-7 days of application of the cream on any skin condition.

Side effects Of Hydrocortisone Cream On Infants

Hydrocortisone cream requires great care while using, as it can lead to serious complications.

Skin Infections

Hydrocortisone cream acts by regulating the immune system in the body and controls the inflammatory symptoms.

If used in excess it can leave the baby vulnerable to infections.

Skin Thinning

Skin thinning is a common side effect of hydrocortisone cream. It happens mostly when a high concentration of hydrocortisone is used, which leaves the skin fragile and susceptible to injuries.

It can also occur on using a low concentrated cream for a long period of time.

It can be identified by the appearance of stretch marks on the baby’s skin.

Adrenal Gland Suppression

Adrenal gland suppression is one of the most dangerous complications that can arise from the long term usage of hydrocortisone.

Adrenal glands are known to produce steroid hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol. If hydrocortisone is used excessively, the adrenal gland can get tricked, thinking enough steroids is present, leading to a drop in the production of hormones.

Other Side Effects

Some more side effects of excessive usage of hydrocortisone creams are:

  • Slow wound healing
  • Increased hair growth
  • Changes in skin color
  • A sensation of burning, tingling, or pricky feeling

Alternatives to Hydrocortisone Creams For Babies

There are various natural solutions that can be used to relieve many skin conditions in babies.

Colloidal Oatmeal

In the case of excessive irritation, switch from the normal bath soap to colloidal oatmeal.

It is a naturally occurring ingredient that helps soothe dry and itchy skin.

Use warm water to bathe the child with an oatmeal bath. Do not keep the child in it for more than 20 minutes. Pat the baby dry and apply a thick moisturizer.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is a multipurpose oil and is used to improve hair and skin conditions.

It can be used alone without any carrier oil to promote wound healing. This oil moistens the skin, encourages healing, and prevents the affected area from drying out.

It also stimulates tissue growth and works as a barrier between the skin and the outside environment.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

A study found, virgin coconut oil provides anti-inflammatory benefits and protects the skin.(2)

Cream-Based Moisturizers

There are numerous cream-based moisturizers that are made especially for sensitive skin.

Such creams contain ceramide or vegetable oil and are significantly thicker than the traditional lotions. They create an effective barrier to prevent irritation from recurring.(3)

Hydrocortisone is not recommended to be used in babies below 2 years of age. Always consult a doctor if thinking of curing even a mild rash with it.