Triamcinolone

Triamcinolone is a topical application that comes in the form of cream, lotion, spray, or ointment.

Overview:

As a cortisone- and steroid-like medication, triamcinolone is available only with a doctor's prescription, Triamcinolone has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is used to help relieve swelling, redness, itching, and any other discomfort caused by skin conditions such as eczema.

Conditions Treated:

  • Eczema
  • Lichen sclerosus
  • Psoriasis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Fungal skin infections

Type of Medicine:

  • Corticosteroid
  • Synthetic glucocorticoid (steroid hormones)
  • Anti-Infective/Anti-Inflammatory Combination

Side Effects:

Almost all medication can have possible side effects. Although some side effects are mere annoyances, others are more serious and should be reported immediately to the patient's doctor in order for counter-measures to be taken, or for the prescription to be ceased.

Less serious side effects that may possibly occur with the use of topical triamcinolone are allergic reactions such as acne or pimples and itching or burning skin accompanied by pinhead-sized blisters. Some patients have reported pain and itching in areas of the skin with lots of hair, sometimes accompanied by pus at the root of the hair.

Other side effects have included an increase in hair growth, particularly on the forehead, back, arms, and legs. The topical application can also lighten normal skin color, and lighten treated areas of dark skin.

Another possible side effect is a noticed softening to the skin, and lines may appear on the face, arms, trunk or groin of the patient. These marks will be reddish purple in hue.

None of the side effects listed above require medical attention. They will usually disappear during the course of the treatment as the patient’s body adjusts itself to the medication. If any of these side effects continue, or become more problematic and noticeable, the patient should speak to his or her doctor or healthcare practitioner. The doctor should also be able to answer any other concerns the patient may have about possible side effects.

If the following side effects occur, the patient must check with their doctor immediately. Cause for concern is if the skin begins blistering or burning, or if the skin begins to dry, crust, and flake. If irritation is persistent, or the skin reacts to the topical application with itching, severe redness, pain, or if there is any swelling of the skin.

Possible side effects that also require medical attention include redness and scaling around the patient's mouth, and if the skin begins to thin, and becomes easily bruised. This is of particular concern on the face, or in skin folds such as between the fingers. Children are more likely to experience side effects, as they may absorb larger amounts of the medication.

Not all of these side effects are likely to occur, but if they do, they may need medical attention. Not all possible side effects that are listed here may be known. If the patient notices any other side effects, they should contact their healthcare professional for further advice.

Dosage:

The required dosage will depend on what the patient is being treated for and the strength of the prescribed topical application. In order for the medication to be effective, patient's must follow their doctor's orders, or the exact directions indicated on the medication label. Listed below are some average dosages as usually prescribed. As with all prescription medications, the doctor's advice overrides this information, and should not be changed. Patients must always follow their health care provider's directions.

When treating fungal skin infections, a cream dosage form will be applied to the affected skin twice a day, in the morning and evening. The treatment is the same for children and adults.

With the ointment dosage, adults and children will apply the prescribed ointment to the affected areas of skin two to three times a day.

If the patient misses a dose, they should apply their medication as soon as they can. If it is almost time for the next dose, they should skip the missed dose and return to the regular schedule of applications.

The topical application of Triamcinolene is intended for the skin only and should not be used in or around the eyes, Do not apply triamcinolone on areas of skin where there are cuts, scrapes, burns or other open wounds. If the patient inadvertently or accidentally puts cream or ointment in these areas they should rinse the area immediately with water.

Do not use triamcinolone for other skin conditions. It should only be used for the exact skin conditions that the doctor is treating. The patient should always consult their doctor before using triamcinolone on other skin conditions, as it may cause damaging side effects. This is especially important to remember if the skin already shows signs of infection. Under no conditions should the patient use triamcinolone to treat severe burns.

When using either the ointment or cream forms of the dosage, the patient must make sure to wash their hands before and after application.

When using the spray application, especially around the face or on children, great care must be taken not to spray into the eyes, nose or mouth.

A thin layer of triamcinolone should be applied directly to the affected area of the skin and gently rubbed in. Do not apply excessive amounts of medication.

When applying to areas on the scalp, the hair should be carefully parted and the lotion applied directly to the infected area. Do not wash the hair straight after applying the lotion or ointment, though the patient may resume normal hair washing later.

Unless the patient's doctor has advised otherwise, do not cover the affected area with any wrappings or bandages. These will change how the medication is absorbed by the skin, affecting the dosage.

When using triamcinolone on young children or infants in the area of their nappies, refrain from using very tight fitting diapers, or plastic waterproof pants unless the healthcare practitioner has otherwise instructed.

In the case where the patient's doctor has ordered the use of an airtight or occlusive dressing to be placed over the medicated area, the patient must make certain they know how to correctly apply the covering. The dressing may increase the skin's ability to absorb the medication, so they should be used only if and when directed.

Medication should be used only for as long as indicated by the prescription. If the issue has not improved in two to three weeks, the patient's doctor should be consulted for further treatment.

Interactions:

Patients should keep their doctor appraised of any other medical conditions or allergies they might have. His or her medical history will help their doctor decide of triamcinolone is the correct course of treatment for them to take. While many medications can be used simultaneously with no adverse effects, the doctor must know all possible interactions in order to prevent use or dosage that would negatively impact the patient or have to render the medication ineffective.

The patient should always inform their doctor if they are taking other medications whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, as some medication may react negatively with triamcinolone. They should not be used in conjunction with other corticosteroids such as:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Prenisolone
  • Prednisone
  • Bethamethasone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Dexamathasone
  • Fludrocortisone
  • Rotavirus vaccine

Always check the ingredients listing of any other medications the patient is taking in order to make sure they do not include any of the above listed corticosteroids or steroids.

Inform the doctor or pharmacist if the patient is taking cancer chemotherapy agents, any other topical application medications, or vitamins.

Cosmetics and other products for skin care should not be used on the areas of treated skin.

Never use medication with addictive drugs, and take care when using tobacco or alcohol as these may cause unwanted interactions.

Warnings:

The patient must inform the doctor if he or she has an infection, or if they suffer from diabetes, immune disorders, or circulation disorders. If they have had cataracts or glaucoma, the health care practitioner should be made aware of this.

Other medical skin problems that may affect the use of triamcinolone include:

  • Herpes
  • Cowpox
  • Chickenpox
  • Tuberculosis of the skin

Prolonged or excessive use of triamcinolone could increase the patient's risk of adrenal gland problems so it is important for the patient's doctor to check on the progress if the symptoms do not improve within a few weeks. Long-term use in children could possibly affect their growth and development, so it is imperative that they are closely monitored by their doctor while using triamcinolone.

If the patient is diabetic, in rare cases the use of corticostroids may spike sugar levels in blood and urine, so any diabetic patients who use triamcinolone in large amounts must maintain their usual diet, or check with their health care provider before making any dietary changes, or any changes in their diabetes medication.

Any patient who is pregnant or breastfeeding, or who plans to become pregnant must inform their doctor of this fact. If the patient becomes pregnant while on a prescription of triamcinolone, they must immediately contact their doctor and let them know.

Storage:

All medication must be stored according to the directions on the package. The patient should keep the medication in the original container and must make sure that it is firmly sealed and out of reach of any children. The container should be kept at room temperature in a dry, environment away from excessive heat or moisture. Do not freeze the medication.

If the medication is outdated, expired or no longer required, it should be safely disposed of. If medication is incorrectly disposed of, it may be found by pets, or children who may consume it.

Never flush triamcinolone or any other medication down the toilet, or dispose of it in any way that could affect water supply. Dangerous disposal of medication is to be avoided.

The FDA has a safe disposal of medicines website which will inform patients of safe disposal methods. Other options include community take-back programs provided by the recycling department. The patient can also speak to their pharmacist about the safe and secure disposal of unwanted or unneeded medication.

Summary:

Triamcinolone is of great benefit to patients experiencing the discomfort of skin conditions which leave their skin reddened, itching or uncomfortable. However, the benefits must always be weighed against the possible side-effects, and the decision made to use triamcinolone should be carefully discussed with the patient's doctor. The patient should always fully inform their doctor of any and all medications they may be taking, whether prescribed or not, so all possible interactions can be predicted. Patients must let their doctors know their medical history, especially if they suffer from diabetes or recurring skin infections. It is in the patient's best interests to provide their docort with a complete list of their allergies, medications and health issues.

Care must be taken to follow the instructions exactly as directed by the patient's health care practitioner, in order not to overdose the medication, and to ensure effective results. Incorrect or excessive application of the cream or ointment could worsen the irritation of the affected area. Do not exceed the length of application as prescribed by the consulting health practitioner.

Young patients should be carefully monitored so they do not exceed the limit for their treatment. Because children may absorb large amounts of this medication through the skin, and because of the nature of toxicity of corticosteroids, care must be taken when using the medication on pediatric patients.

If triamcinolone is taken as directed, the anti-inflammatory medication will provide relief to sufferers of skin infections and irritations such as eczema and psoriasis, dermatitis, and lupus by relieving areas of itching or redness, and reducing swelling. This will provide the patient with a better quality of day-to-day life.

While triamcinolone should be kept sealed in its original packaging container, it is advised that the medication is stored in a high area or in a locked cupboard, or a place where children are unable to reach it as protection against possible poisoning. It should be safely disposed of when it has expired or is no longer needed. The patient should contact their pharmacy for further advice.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017
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