Compare Hydrocortisone vs. dexamethasone

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

Treats itchy or irritated skin.

Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) is a good topical steroid to try for treating minor rashes or skin irritation.

Calms down your immune system.

Decadron (dexamethasone) is a long-acting oral corticosteroid that is very effective in treating allergic reactions and immune conditions, however, if you're taking Decadron (dexamethasone) for a long time, there can be serious side effects.

Upsides
  • 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.
  • Effective in treating many conditions.
  • Can improve energy and appetite.
  • Can control immune responses that are causing you discomfort and works quickly to relieve symptoms like swelling, rash, asthma attacks, and pain.
  • Has long-term benefit in calming down the immune system and keeping it from causing your body harm, such as in autoimmune conditions.
  • Available in generic form.
Downsides
  • 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.
  • Many side effects, particularly with long term use.
  • Side effects include mood changes, trouble sleeping and increase in blood pressure and blood sugar at higher doses.
  • Long-term use can cause problems with skin, bone, eye health and put you at a higher risk for infections.
  • If you've been using corticosteroids for more than 2 weeks, you will need to work with a doctor to get off the medicine slowly.
  • Limited studies conducted with use of steroids during pregnancy or breastfeeding - potential harm to unborn baby.
Used for
  • Skin inflammation
  • Itching
  • Allergies
  • Skin Conditions
  • Endocrine Conditions
  • Eye Conditions
  • Stomach Conditions
  • Respiratory disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis flare
  • Hematologic Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune and Rheumatic Conditions
Dosage forms
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Lotion
  • Topical solution
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
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Side effects
The Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Decadron (dexamethasone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Increased risk for infections
    • Long-term treatment
    • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
    • Contact with people who have viral illness
    • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
    • Long-term treatment
  • Bone effects
    • Dose of Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone)
    • Duration of treatment
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Lowered adrenal function
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Increased risk for infections
    • Taking other immunosuppressants
    • Long-term treatment
    • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
    • Contact with people who have viral illness
    • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Changes in heart and kidney function
    • Recent heart attack
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
    • History of stomach bleeding
    • Active or history of stomach ulcers
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Taking Decadron (dexamethasone) with other medicine that can cause stomach problems
  • Bone effects
    • Dose of Decadron (dexamethasone)
    • Duration of treatment
  • Eye problems
See more detailed risks and warnings