Compare Hydrocortisone vs. Dexamethasone

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

Anusol Hc
(Hydrocortisone)

Decadron
(Dexamethasone)

Treats itchy or irritated skin. Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) is a good topical steroid to try for treating minor rashes or skin irritation.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.
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Reviews & ratings
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Have you used Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone)?
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Have you used Decadron (Dexamethasone)?
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Side effects
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone

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

FDA side effect reports for Hydrocortisone »

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

More about Dexamethasone side effects »
How it works
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone) is a topical steroid that works by decreasing skin itching, swelling, and redness.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.
Type of medication
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
Over-the-counter
Prescription only
Available as
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Lotion
  • Topical solution
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • Skin Inflammation
Risk factors for serious side effects
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • 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 »
  • 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 »
Pregnancy

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.

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.

Kidneys and liver
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
No kidneys and liver related info.
  • Adrenal suppression leading to adrenal crisis can occur if you lower your dose or stop taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) too quickly. Symptoms include joint or muscle pain, extreme low energy and depression. Changes in your Decadron (Dexamethasone) dose need to be done slowly over time. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes or stop the medication.
Weight
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
No weight related info.
  • Some people gain weight while taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) or can experience other side effects like mood changes.
Upsides and benefits
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • 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.
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
HydrocortisoneDexamethasone
  • 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.
  • 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.
Learn more
More about HydrocortisoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Anusol Hc (Hydrocortisone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about DexamethasoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Decadron (Dexamethasone)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it