Compare dexamethasone vs. Hydrocortisone

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Decadron
(Dexamethasone)

Anusol Hc
(Hydrocortisone)

Lowers inflammation and suppresses your immune system. Decadron (Dexamethasone) is identical to an essential hormone that humans produce and has been proven to work safely.Treats itchy or irritated skin. Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) is a good topical steroid to try for treating minor rashes or skin irritation.
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Reviews & ratings
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Side effects
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone

The dexamethasone FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about dexamethasone side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Hydrocortisone side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Hydrocortisone »
How it works
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
Decadron (Dexamethasone) is a short-acting corticosteroid. It lowers inflammation by preventing your capillaries (small blood vessels) from leaking out excess fluid and chemicals that cause swelling.Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) is a topical steroid that works by decreasing skin itching, swelling, and redness.
Type of medication
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
Glucocorticoid
Synthetic
Prescription only
CorticosteroidOver-the-counter
Available as
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Lotion
  • Topical solution
Used for (click to learn more)
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • Skin inflammation
Risk factors for serious side effects
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
  • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Long-term treatment
  • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
  • Contact with people who have viral illness
  • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Duration of treatment
  • History of psychiatric conditions
  • Dose of Decadron (Dexamethasone)
  • Duration of treatment
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Decadron (Dexamethasone) risks & warnings »
  • Long-term treatment
  • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
  • Contact with people who have viral illness
  • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Long-term treatment
  • Dose of Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone)
  • Duration of treatment
Detailed Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
Food
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Like most corticosteroid medicines, Decadron (Dexamethasone) may cause changes in your mood or behavior. Tell your doctor right away if you become depressed, have mood swings, trouble sleeping, irritability or anxiety, hyperactivity, delusions or hallucinations while taking this medicine. If you need to make any changes or slowly taper your dose, talk to your doctor first.
No specific sleep-related info.
Weight
  • Some people gain weight while taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) or can experience other side effects like mood changes.
No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • Treats a large variety of inflammatory disorders including asthma, dermatitis, drug reactions, rashes, and endocrine disorders.
  • Can help prevent nausea, especially when it's caused by chemotherapy.
  • You can get it orally or as an injection.
  • Relieves itchy and irritated skin.
  • Doesn't cause the same types of side effects that oral forms of steroids do.
  • It's available over the counter in the drugstore.
  • Most people have very few side effects.
Downsides and risks
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • Can't be used on its own to treat low cortisol levels.
  • Since it suppresses your immune system, you're more likely to get infections.
  • You can't take Decadron (Dexamethasone) if you have a systemic fungal infection.
  • Shouldn't be used if you have a stomach ulcer.
  • Can decrease bone formation and lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
  • It's not a strong steroid, so it doesn't work for everyone.
  • When used longer than a week, it can cause skin-thinning and make it harder for broken skin to heal.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
dexamethasoneHydrocortisone
  • The lowest possible dose of corticosteroids should be used to control your symptoms.
  • When reducing or stopping the dose, do it very slowly and follow your doctor's instructions exactly to prevent major health emergencies.
  • If you used Decadron (Dexamethasone) for a long time, you could get withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, joint pain, and malaise.
  • Some people gain weight while taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) or can experience other side effects like mood changes.
  • Don't get live or live/attenuated vaccines while on this. Killed or inactivated vaccines are fine.
  • Rub a thin layer of Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) into the area of skin that is affected.
  • Don't rub it into broken areas of skin and leave the area uncovered.
  • Wash your hands after applying it each time.
  • Don't use Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) more often than your doctor or the package label recommends.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes between applying moisturizing lotions and this medication.
  • Talk to your doctor if your skin gets worse or hasn't improved in seven days.
Learn more
More about dexamethasoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about HydrocortisoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert