Desonate (Desonide) - Topical

What Is Desonate?

Desonate (desonide) is a topical gel applied to the skin to treat eczema (atopic dermatitis). It belongs to a group of medications called corticosteroids (steroids), which work by reducing inflammation and itching—two symptoms anyone with eczema knows the importance of controlling.

Desonate is a prescription medication, so you’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider to determine if this treatment is right for you.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Desonide

Brand Name(s): Desonate, Desowen, LoKara, Tridesilon, Verdeso

Administration Route(s): Topical

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Corticosteroid

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Desonide

Dosage Form(s): Gel/jelly, ointment, cream, lotion, foam

What Is Desonate Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Desonate to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (more commonly known as eczema) in people 3 months of age and older.

Eczema is often diagnosed in children, but symptoms may continue as an adult. People with eczema struggle with dry, scaly, itchy, red patches on their skin, which sometimes come and go on their own but often require treatment to manage. Healthcare providers commonly prescribe topical steroids to control eczema symptoms.


Verywell / Zoe Hansen

How to Use Desonate

Desonate is usually applied twice per day during an eczema flare-up. Follow these steps to ensure you are using Desonate properly and minimizing the chance of side effects:

  • Use only the amount necessary to cover the affected area. 
  • Apply a thin layer and rub it in gently.
  • Wash your hands after applying (unless you are treating eczema on your hands).
  • Do not cover the treated area with any bandage or wrap unless recommended by your healthcare provider. 
  • Only apply to your skin, and avoid contact with your eyes.


Desonate should be stored at room temperature. Be sure to keep Desonate, and all your medications, in a safe area away from children and pets.

Off-Label Uses

Your healthcare provider may prescribe Desonate off-label to treat other skin conditions that involve swelling, itching, or redness, such as psoriasis. Desonate is not specifically FDA approved for such conditions but may still be beneficial.

Be sure to discuss all your symptoms with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for you.

How Long Does It Take Desonate to Work?

Desonate should significantly improve your eczema symptoms within four weeks, although many people begin to see improvements sooner.

If Desonate has not worked after four weeks, your healthcare provider will reevaluate your symptoms and decide if a different treatment would be better for you.

What Are the Side Effects of Desonate?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Most people don’t experience any side effects when using Desonate for short-term treatment. However, Desonate users can sometimes develop mild or severe reactions. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects that you experience.

Common Side Effects

Desonate can sometimes cause skin reactions, including:

  • A rash 
  • Burning or stinging 
  • Irritation, redness, dryness, or peeling of the skin 
  • Itching

Let your healthcare provider know if these symptoms don’t go away or interfere with your ability to use the medication.

Severe Side Effects

Severe reactions from Desonate are rare but can occur. Stop using Desonate and contact your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Signs of a skin infection, such as redness, swelling, or oozing pus at the application site
  • A severe rash

Long-Term Side Effects

Long-term use of Desonate may cause changes in the appearance of your skin. These effects usually go away after stopping Desonate, but it may take months to see an improvement. Some changes may be irreversible.

Skin changes include:

  • A rash with red or purple spots (purpura
  • Changes in skin color 
  • Development of acne or rosacea-like rashes 
  • Excess hair growth in the treated area 
  • Stretch marks (striae) 
  • Thinning of the skin (skin atrophy) 
  • “Spider veins” (telangiectasia)

If you require long-term treatment with Desonate, your healthcare provider might regularly check your skin. If possible, avoid continuous treatment. After your flare-up has improved, your provider may recommend using Desonate one to two times per week to help prevent symptoms. This type of “pulsed” treatment, rather than using Desonate every day, may help prevent side effects.

Report Side Effects

Desonate may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Desonate Should I Use?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For atopic dermatitis:
    • For topical dosage forms (foam or gel):
      • Adults—Apply a thin layer to the affected area of the skin 2 times a day.
      • Children 3 months of age and older—Apply a thin layer to the affected area of the skin 2 times a day.
      • Children younger than 3 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For redness, itching, and swelling of the skin:
    • For topical dosage forms (cream, ointment, or lotion):
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area of the skin 2 or 3 times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.


How you use Desonate may vary depending on various factors.

Infants and Children

Children are more likely to absorb topical steroids and have an increased risk of side effects, including slowed growth and delayed weight gain. Do not apply Desonate in the diaper area of a child, since the diaper may increase the amount that is absorbed. Don’t apply to the groin or armpit area unless recommended by a healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Let your healthcare provider know if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. There is limited information on the effects of Desonate during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so you and your healthcare provider should discuss the risks and benefits of continuing treatment.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Desonate, apply it as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular frequency of application. Don’t use extra to make up for the missed dose.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Desonate?

Follow the directions on your prescription and only apply Desonate to the skin. Do not swallow Desonate or apply it to the eyes or vagina.

What Happens If I Overdose on Desonate?

If you or someone else swallows Desonate, contact your healthcare provider or the Poison Control center (800-222-1222).

If you are experiencing symptoms that feel life-threatening, call 911.


Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects.

If your or your child's symptoms do not improve within a few days or after 4 weeks, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

Using too much of this medicine or using it for a long time may increase your risk of having adrenal gland problems. The risk is greater for children and patients who use large amounts for a long time. Talk to your doctor right away if you or your child have more than one of these symptoms while you are using this medicine: blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, a fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, increased thirst or urination, irritability, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

This medicine may affect your blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor right away if you have increased thirst or increased urination. If you notice a change in the results of your urine or blood sugar tests, or if you have any questions, check with your doctor.

Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty with reading, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want your eyes be checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have a skin rash, burning, stinging, swelling, or irritation on the skin.

Make sure your doctor knows that you are using desonide foam. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before having surgery.

Do not use cosmetics or other skin care products on the treated areas.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Use Desonate?

You should not use Desonate if you are allergic to desonide or any other ingredient found in the gel. Let your healthcare provider know if you have experienced a reaction to any topical steroid in the past.

What Other Medications Interact With Desonate?

Desonate does not significantly interact with any medications, but you should avoid using other topical steroids since it can increase side effects. Let your healthcare provider know about all medications you take, including topical creams or ointments, so they can ensure your treatment regimen is safe and effective.

What Medications Are Similar?

Many topical steroids are available that come in other forms, including ointments, creams, lotions, solutions, foams, sprays, and gels. Deciding on a product will depend on the area of the body you are treating and the severity of your symptoms.

Desonate gel dries quickly as a thin nongreasy film and doesn’t leave any visible residue—a common complaint with other topical products.

Other topical steroids include:

  • Betamethasone valerate
  • Clobetasol
  • Fluocinonide
  • Fluticasone propionate
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Triamcinolone acetonide

This is a list of drugs commonly used to treat eczema. It is NOT a list of drugs recommended to use with Desonate. In fact, you should avoid using different topical steroids together since it can increase your risk of side effects. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about your medications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Desonate used for?

    Desonate is FDA approved to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema), but your healthcare provider may prescribe it for other skin conditions that cause redness, swelling, or itching.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Desonate?

    Desonate is a topical corticosteroid (steroid). You should not use it with any other topical steroid products. Taking more than one steroid together can increase your risk of developing side effects.

  • What are the side effects of Desonate?

    Most people who use Desonate short term don’t experience any side effects. Some people may experience burning, stinging, skin dryness, or a rash. Long-term use of Desonate may result in changes to the skin, including thinning, stretch marks, changes in color, or spider veins. These changes typically are reversible, but it may take several months after stopping Desonate for the effects to go away. 

  • How do I apply Desonate?

    Apply Desonate in a thin layer to the affected area and rub in gently. Don’t cover Desonate with any bandages or wraps. This can increase how much Desonate is absorbed and cause side effects. Be sure to wash your hands after applying Desonate, unless you are treating eczema on your hands.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Desonate?

If you’re struggling with eczema symptoms, Desonate is an effective option that may be able to help. Talk with your healthcare provider about all your symptoms and concerns. Together you will develop a plan to improve your discomfort and the appearance of your skin, so you can look and feel your best. 

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for education purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your doctor before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Trookman NS, Rizer RL. Randomized controlled trial of desonlde hydrogel 0.05% versus desonide Ointment 0.05% in the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011;4(11):34-38.

  2. DailyMed. Label: Desonate- desonide gel.

  3. Frazier W, Bhardwaj N. Atopic dermatitis: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2020;101(10):590-598

  4. MedlinePlus. Desonide topical.

  5. Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Berger TG, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis: section 2. Management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with topical therapies. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(1):116-132. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2014.03.023

By Christina Varvatsis, PharmD
Christina Varvatsis is a hospital pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She is passionate about helping individuals make informed healthcare choices by understanding the benefits and risks of their treatment options.