Topical Fluocinonide for Dermatological Conditions

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If you've got a skin condition that causes severe itching, your doctor may prescribe fluocinonide (brand names include Lidex and Vanos). Fluocinonide is a strong corticosteroid that reduces skin swelling, itching, and redness. It treats various allergic skin conditions, as well as atopic dermatitis (eczema), contact dermatitis (including rashes caused by poison oak and ivy), xerotic dermatitis (dry skin), and other causes of itching.

How Is Fluocinonide Used?

Fluocinonide comes in the form of an ointment, cream, solution, or gel, as well as in different dosages. In general, fluocinonide is applied to the affected skin areas two to three times a day for up to two weeks at a time. The exact dose, application, and instructions, however, will be different for different patients. Some doctors may recommend bandaging the area where the medication was applied and others may recommend against this. It is important to follow your doctor's directions for using fluocinonide carefully. You should never use it more frequently or for a longer time than prescribed in order to avoid risking side effects or skin irritation.


As with all medications, it's important to inform your doctor about any health conditions or allergies you have. In addition, take the following precautions:

  • Clean and dry the affected area before applying fluocinonide.
  • Wash your hands before and after use. If applying to your hands, don’t wash your hands after applying fluocinonide.
  • Apply only a thin film of the medication. Fluocinonide is very strong and a small amount is effective.
  • Apply fluocinonide to your skin only. Avoid getting it in your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Don’t apply fluocinonide on your face, underarms, or groin area unless told to do so by your doctor.
  • Do not use cosmetics or other skin care products on the treated areas without your doctor's approval.

Side Effects

Initially, fluocinonide can cause burning, additional itching, irritation, or dryness but these symptoms usually subside in a few days as you continue to use it. Other, more serious side effects include:

  • Blistering, burning, crusting, dryness, or flaking of the skin
  • Redness, inflamed, or sore skin
  • Easy bruising or thinning of the skin

If any of the following more serious side effects occur, call your doctor right away:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Acne or pimples
  • Increased hair growth on the forehead, back, arms, and legs
  • Lightening of normal skin color
  • Reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • Softening of the skin

Using too much of this medicine may increase your risk of adrenal gland problems. The risk is greater for children and patients who use large amounts for a long time.

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

View Article Sources
  • Boguniewicz M, Leung DYM. Atopic Dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006; 117(2):S475-80.