Clobetasol (Topical)

Clobetasol is a steroid used to treat a variety of skin conditions, and works by reducing the chemicals in the body that are responsible for creating inflammation and other common skin complaints.

Overview

Clobetasol is a topical solution that is prescribed to treat a variety of skin conditions. It is a very strong steroid, so is therefore only available as a prescription from a doctor or a pharmacist. The drug is administered via the topical route directly onto the affected areas.

Clobetasol is typically prescribed to those suffering from conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and a range of allergic reactions. It works by reducing the chemicals in the body that are responsible for creating inflammation, swellings and skin rash. Clobetasol therefore reduces discomfort such as itching, burning and pain caused by these conditions.

Psoriasis and eczema are fairly similar skin conditions in their nature. Psoriasis can cause patches of red, flaky skin that is often covered with scales that are silvery in appearance. The patches most commonly appear on the scalp, lower back, knees and elbows, but can also appear on other parts of the body. Eczema causes the skin to become very dry, and also tends to appear most commonly on the knees and elbows. The skin can become very itchy and uncomfortable for those suffering from eczema, and can come in a variety of forms that are highly individual from patient to patient.

Clobetasol is usually prescribed along with advice on skincare, to help reduce the impact of skin conditions. As many of these skin conditions are chronic, such as eczema and psoriasis, clobetasol is not a cure. However, if usage instructions and skincare advice are followed, the holistic treatment can work to control the conditions and improve the quality of life of the patient.

Clobetasol is available in a range of forms, to be applied directly to the affected areas of skin. Depending on the nature of the condition, its severity, and its location on the body, it can be given to patients in forms such as a foam, gel, cream, spray, lotion or shampoo (see full list in 'type of medication' section). All of these solutions are intended for external use only.

Clobetasol has various brand names in the United States, listed below. The active ingredients are the same for each brand:

  • Embeline E
  • Temovate E
  • Olux-E
  • Clobevate
  • Temovate
  • Cormax
  • Embeline
  • OluxOlux-E Complete Pack
  • Clobex
  • Olux

Type of medication

Clobetasol is a topical solution that is available in a variety of forms:

  • Cream
  • Ointment
  • Gel
  • Spray
  • Solution
  • Foam
  • Emollient Cream
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo

Conditions treated

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Allergies (with symptoms occurring on the skin)

Side effects

Clobetasol is a strong steroid, so there are various side effects that patients may be at risk of developing. Some side effects are very common (happening in at least one in ten patients), so are usually not a cause for concern. However, there are various, less common side effects that could be a sign that clobetasol is not the right medication for your condition.

While you should expect mild side effects when taking topical skin medication such as this one, you should always report symptoms if you are worried. Likewise, if any of your side effects refuse to go away on their own after the beginning of your course, you should contact a medical professional for advice.

Fairly common side effects include:

  • Burning sensation at the site of application
  • Stinging skin at the site of application
  • Very dry skin
  • Flakiness or scaliness of the skin
  • Skin rashes, redness or swelling of the skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Crusty skin
  • Oozing or open-looking wounds at the site of application
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Skin that becomes easily bruised

Less common side effects include:

  • Hair loss
  • Pain at the roots of the hair (on the head or other areas where hair growth is present)
  • Thinning of the hair

The most common side effects that are reported by patients are listed below. These will usually develop at the start of a course of treatment. They tend to go away on their own as your body adapts to the steroid. Always seek advice if they persist; there may be other medications you can take to ease the symptoms, and likewise there may be some that are not suitable for taking while on clobetasol.

  • Sore throat that lasts for more than a few days
  • Body aches and pains
  • Dryness or irritation in the throat
  • Congestion of the sinuses, runny or blocked nose
  • Swollen glands around the neck area
  • Headache
  • Spots that appear similar to warts, particularly on the face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in the color of the skin (not related to exposure to sun)
  • Unusual levels of tiredness or weakness in the body

Dosage

The dosage prescribed of clobetasol is usually of the same strength for all patients. However, the amount used will be dependent on the size of the area that is affected by the condition.

You should always follow the usage instructions on the packaging of your prescription. Always stick to the recommended dosage given to you by your doctor. When applying clobetasol, you should not apply more or less of the gel than advised. Applying more than recommended will not have any additional positive impact on your condition.

You should always wash your hands thoroughly before and after each application. Also, you should ensure that the affected area of skin is clean and dry. Then, squeeze a small amount of the solution onto your finger and rub it gently into the affected area of skin. Allow the gel to dry before covering. Do not cover with a plaster or bandage.

Clobetasol is not intended for larger areas of skin. As it is a steroid, it can be absorbed through the skin and could therefore create unwanted side effects if used in larger quantities.

Clobetasol works best when you follow the administration instructions and do not miss any applications. However, if you do miss an application, just apply the solution as soon as you remember. If you find it is close to the time for your next dose, just skip the missed application entirely. Do not attempt to double up on doses to make up for missed ones. This will not have any additional benefit to your condition, and may end up making it worse.

Major drug interactions

Before you take any prescription, you should have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about your full medical history, most importantly concerning any other medications you may be taking. This is because there are some drugs that may interact with clobetasol. An interaction can occur when two reactive drugs are mixed together. This creates potentially dangerous side effects and can also impact the effectiveness of either medication in treating your conditions.

There are three levels of interactions that are allocated to drug pairs' minor, moderate and major interactions. Major interactions should always be avoided, as the potential health risks will almost certainly outweigh any benefits. Moderate interactions should also be avoided, except in the most extreme or exceptional circumstances. Minor interactions can sometimes be taken together, if the benefits to health are expected to outweigh any risks or side effects.

Although there are no drugs that must indefinitely be avoided when taking clobetasol, there are many that have been found to cause some form of interaction. Therefore, always tell your doctor whether you are taking any other prescription drugs or over the counter medications. These are the drugs that can interact with clobetasol:

  • acarbose
  • metformin, saxagliptin
  • insulin glargine
  • acetohexamide
  • tolbutamide
  • albiglutide
  • alogliptin
  • alogliptin, pioglitazone
  • canagliflozin
  • insulin zinc extended
  • chlorpropamide
  • insulin inhalation
  • dapagliflozin
  • insulin glulisine
  • dapagliflozin, metformin
  • insulin aspart
  • glimepiride
  • insulin zinc
  • glimepiride
  • glipizide
  • exenatide
  • glyburide
  • insulin
  • linagliptin
  • liraglutide
  • insulin detemir
  • lixisenatide
  • metformin
  • linagliptin, metformin
  • metformin, pioglitazone
  • insulin degludec
  • metformin, repaglinide
  • metformin, sitagliptin
  • miglitol
  • nateglinide
  • pioglitazone
  • pramlintide
  • empagliflozin
  • repaglinide
  • dapagliflozin, saxagliptin
  • rosiglitazone
  • saxagliptin
  • simvastatin, sitagliptin
  • sitagliptin
  • tolazamide
  • troglitazone
  • insulin isophane
  • dulaglutide
  • metformin, rosiglitazone
  • alogliptin, metformin

Warnings

There are various other precautions you should take when prescribed a treatment of clobetasol. Below is a list of precautions you and your doctor will take before starting on a course of clobetasol.

Pregnancy

The use of clobetasol, along with other steroids, is not advised during any trimester of pregnancy, except in very extreme circumstances. Studies on animals have shown that the drug can cause a risk during pregnancy of harm or defects to the fetus. It is also not advisable that this medication is used in women of childbearing age, as it is not known whether it can impact the likelihood of conceiving.

The drug has been given a category C risk factor in consumption during pregnancy. This means that, while data from animal studies is available and shows a risk to an unborn infant, there is no sufficient data available in humans, nor any suggestion that the implications would be the same during a human pregnancy. The drug should therefore only be prescribed to pregnant women if there is no other treatment that is suitable.

Clobetasol and diabetes

There is a risk of developing or aggravating diabetes for those that are using clobetasol. This is because the drug increases the level of glucose in the blood by suppressing the secretion of insulin. Although this risk is rare, you should proceed with caution if you have a history of high blood sugar levels or suffer from diabetes. Use of the drug for small affected areas of skin may reduce the risk of increased blood glucose; for larger areas of skin, it is not recommended that this treatment is used. The duration of the treatment may also be reduced if you suffer from type 2 diabetes.

Infants, diaper rash

Clobetasol is not usually used as a treatment for diaper rash. This is because it is generally not recommended for use in young children due to their increased risk of developing systemic toxicity or Cushing's syndrome. In the rare instance that this drug is prescribed to treat diaper rash, parents should take extra care not to put a tight diaper over the treated area; tight dressings lead to higher absorption of the substance through the skin, leading to increased side effects.

Children

This medication should not generally be used to treat children under the age of 12. This is because younger patients will have less body mass and therefore the affected area is likely to make up a greater proportion of total skin area. Usage of this medication on larger areas of skin can lead to toxicity ' and children are at an increased risk of suffering from this.

Infections

Use of clobetasol is not generally advised for patients suffering from various infections ' particularly in children. This is because the absorption of the product through the skin can aggravate and increase the severity of an infection. If you have a skin infection and have been advised to use clobetasol, you should not dress the area after application.

Allergies

It is particularly important that you tell your health care professional about any allergies that you may have, particularly to clobetasol or other similar medications. Your doctor will be especially keen to learn about any skin-related allergies you have had, such as rashes, swelling of the skin or blotchiness. This could be caused by pets such as dogs and cats, foods, preservatives, dyes, beauty products, dust or pollen. Patients with skin conditions are sometimes particularly vulnerable for picking up further allergies, so you should be mindful to observe any symptoms of allergies while you are taking the medication.

Misuse

Clobetasol is strictly intended for topical application only. It should never be consumed orally and can cause dangerous hazards if consumed. If you suspect someone has consumed clobetasol orally, you should contact your local poison control center for immediate advice. Side effects of consuming this drug orally can typically include severe vomiting, nausea, dizziness, stomach cramps or faintness.

Clobetasol should also not be inserted into the body ' use it on the surface of the skin only.

Storage

It is important that you store your prescription of clobetasol safely. In the United States, there are tens of thousands of cases of children being admitted to emergency rooms as a result of taking other people's prescription medication. Always try to keep your prescription of clobetasol locked away in a medical cabinet ' or at least make sure it is out of the reach of children and pets.

Clobetasol is supplied for use in a designated tube. During your treatment course, you should keep it in this tube. Do not attempt to move any of the solution into other containers, as this can cause the spread of bacteria, or lead to mix-ups with other creams.

You should also make sure you keep your clobetasol prescription in the right conditions. Keep it at room temperature (around 20 degrees centigrade) to ensure it retains its potency. Do not put the tube in the fridge or the freezer, and do not store it in direct heat or sunlight. Finally, make sure your prescription of clobetasol is kept in a dry place 'not in your bathroom.

Disposal

Always make sure you dispose of any clobetasol that you do not use. You should not flush the substance down the drain or the toilet unless you have been instructed to do so by a medical professional.

The best way to get rid of unwanted amounts of clobetasol is via a local take-back scheme. You can find out where your nearest take-back collection service is by visiting the website of the FDA for further information. The site also contains handy advice about the disposal of medications where there is no take-back scheme available.

Do not attempt to use any medication that has expired. Your clobetasol prescription will be less effective and may even be dangerous to use after it has passed its sell-by date. Once you have finished with your prescription, throw it away responsibly. Your prescription of clabetasol is intended for your use only and should not be given to others, or left to use by those for whom it was not prescribed.

Summary

Clobetasol has been found to be a highly effective treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It can dramatically improve the quality of life of those suffering with chronic skin conditions, by reducing irritation, itchiness and redness. The drug is not designed as a long-term treatment, however, so is mainly used to treat patients when they experience a bout in their chronic conditions.

There is no current cure for psoriasis and eczema, and many people live with the discomfort of the conditions throughout their entire lives. However, many skin conditions like these can be controlled to maintain a management level, helping the patient to regain a quality of life. Clobetasol can calm down even the most severe bouts of skin conditions in adults, but is not intended for use on large areas of skin as it is a very potent steroid that is absorbed through the skin.

Clobetasol has been found to be relatively safe for use by a range of patients, with little risk of severe side effects. Common side effects are often considered to be more bearable than living with the effects of conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. However, there are various studies that have warned against the use of the drug in pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, women of child-bearing age, and children under the age of 12. This is because harmful effects have been recorded in animals, so there is a potential for the same effects in humans.

Clobetasol works best when administered along with a good skincare regime. Conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can be aggravated by certain skincare products, so a doctor may also recommend a change in lifestyle habits, as well as eradication of any other potentially aggravating products currently being used by the patient. Patients can aid the effectiveness of clobetasol for their conditions by having a full discussion about their medical history before beginning the treatment. This is because there are several possible treatments for skin conditions, so finding the right one is important.