Kenalog (Triamcinolone) - Topical

What Is Kenalog?

Kenalog (triamcinolone) is a topical prescription drug used to treat skin rashes and other skin irritations in adults and children. It also treats mouth irritation due to swelling, ulcers, or trauma. 

Triamcinolone belongs to the drug class called corticosteroids. It helps to ease swelling and itching by reducing the release of certain chemicals in the body that cause autoimmune disorders and allergic reactions.

Kenalog is available as a topical cream, lotion, ointment, and spray.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Triamcinolone

Brand Name(s): Kenalog

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Corticosteroid

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Administration Route: Topical

Active Ingredient: Triamcinolone

Dosage Form(s): Aerosol Solution, Cream, Ointment, Lotion

What Is Kenalog Used For?

Kenalog (triamcinolone) is a potent corticosteroid used to treat multiple acute and chronic skin issues like eczema, inflammations, or irritations. It also treats seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that affects the scalp, face, trunk, chest, or upper back. Triamcinolone is available as an oral paste (Kenalog in Orabase) used to treat mouth irritation.

How to Use Kenalog

Use topically only as instructed by your healthcare provider. Wash your hands before and after use. If your hand is the treated area, do not wash it. 

Oral paste (Kenalog in orabase):

Apply a thin layer to the affected area in the mouth using a cotton swab. Do not rub in, and do not swallow this medication.

Lotion and spray:

Shake well before use if using the lotion or spray. 

If using the spray, spray 3 to 6 inches away from the affected area and apply:

  • Insert the spray tube applicator into the spray button and twist to seat for difficult-to-reach locations.
  • Point the tube away from your torso and face.
  • Ensure the tube applicator is clean before using it, and then wash it afterward.
  • While applying, move the spray tube to touch the affected area's surface.
  • Avoid your eyes and do not inhale if spraying near your face. This product is flammable. Therefore, avoid smoke, heat, or flame when using Kenalog spray.

All topical products: 

  • Apply a thin layer to the affected area.
  • Gently rub it into the skin.
  • To increase how well this medicine is absorbed in your body, apply it to clean moist skin right after a bath.
  • Do not use it on broken, damaged, or cut skin.
  • Unless your healthcare provider recommends it, do not use an occlusive dressing (dressings, bandages). 
  • Do not use this medicine to treat diaper rash.
  • However, if the treated skin is the diaper area, do not use tight diapers or plastic pants as this may increase the risk of this drug getting into your system.
  • Do not apply to your underarm, face, or groin unless your healthcare provider instructs.
  • If your symptoms do not improve in two weeks, inform your healthcare provider.
  • Stop using it if you develop skin irritations or if your skin problem gets worse.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from too much heat. Do not freeze. Do not puncture the Kenalog spray bottle or light it on fire, even if the container looks empty.

Keep triamcinolone away from children and pets, preferably in a locked box.

Toss all unused and expired medicines. Discuss the best ways to discard this medicine with your healthcare provider. Check out drug take-back programs in your area.

How Long Does Kenalog Take to Work?

Kenalog is absorbed through the skin and may begin to work as soon as you apply it. This drug's onset of action varies from person to person, depending on many reasons, including occlusive dressings.

What Are the Side Effects of Kenalog?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Kenalog include but are not limited to:

Severe Side Effects

Kenalog can cause severe side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or think you have a medical emergency. Severe side effects include:

Report Side Effects

Kenalog 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 healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Kenalog Should I Take?

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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 redness, itching, and swelling of the skin:
    • For topical dosage forms (cream, lotion, and ointment):
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area of the skin two to four times per day.
      • Children—Apply to the affected area of the skin two to four times per day.
    • For topical dosage form (aerosol spray):
      • Adults—Spray to the affected area of the skin three to four times per day.
      • Children—Spray to the affected area of the skin three to four times per day.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Kenalog:

Pregnancy: Research shows that corticosteroids may not be safe for the fetus. Do not use during pregnancy except if the possible benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus. Also, do not use this medicine in high doses or for extended time frames.

Breastfeeding:  It is unknown if this drug is present in breast milk. Use caution. Speak to your healthcare provider if planning to breastfeed. If you use Kenalog while breastfeeding, do not apply it to your nipple or areola area until after breastfeeding. Clean or wash your nipples before feeding.

Adults over 65: This population has a high risk of side effects due to systemic absorption, including changes in skin integrity. Use cautiously with the small amounts for the shortest duration.

Children: Children may absorb this drug faster through their skin. Because of their greater skin surface area to body mass ratio, infants and small children may be more vulnerable to systemic toxicities. Use caution in children.

Missed Dose

If you accidentally miss your dose, don’t panic. Apply the missed dose once you think of it. Skip the missed dose if it is too close to your next dose. Return to your regular time. Do not use an extra amount or two doses at a time.

Try to find ways to help yourself remember to use your medication. If you miss too many doses, Kenalog might be less effective in treating your skin condition.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Kenalog?

Corticosteroids used on the skin can be absorbed into your body in enough amounts to cause systemic effects. Some systemic side effects may include signs of low blood sugar or Cushing's disease.

What Happens If I Overdose on Kenalog?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed or ingested Kenalog, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after using Kenalog, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits for any problems that may be caused by this medicine. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

If your or your child's symptoms do not improve within a few 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.

Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child have a skin rash, burning, stinging, swelling, or irritation on the skin.

Do not use this medication with other corticosteroid (eg, hydrocortisone) containing products without checking with your doctor first. .

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

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Use Kenalog?

Avoid using Kenalog if you are hypersensitive to triamcinolone or any part of the formulation (ingredients). Do not apply this drug to a cut, broken, or damaged skin area.

What Other Medications Interact With Kenalog?

There are no specific drug interactions listed for Kenalog. However, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about all prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.

What Medications Are Similar?

Other drugs similar to Kenalog that are corticosteroids include:

  • Diprolene (betamethasone)
  • Temovate (clobetasol)
  • Verdeso (desonide)
  • Vanos (fluocinonide)
  • Elocon (mometasone)
  • Locoid (hydrocortisone)

This list lists drugs also prescribed to treat skin irritations and conditions. It is NOT a list of medicines recommended to use with Kenalog. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Kenalog used to treat?

    Kenalog treats skin irritations, skin rashes, and mouth irritations.

  • What are the common side effects of Kenalog?

    Some common side effects include:

    • Dry skin
    • Burning
    • Itching
  • Where should I store Kenalog?

    Store Kenalog at room temperature (68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit) away from children and pets.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Kenalog?

    Use the missed dose once you think of it. Skip the missed dose if it is too close to the next dose. Return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use extra doses or double the amount.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Using Kenalog?

While Kenalog effectively treats various skin irritations, do not use this medicine if you have decreased skin circulation.

Also, do not use occlusive dressings, except if instructed by your healthcare provider. Using occlusive dressings may increase the amount of drug your body absorbs, which may increase your risk of systemic side effects.

If your skin is not getting better after two weeks or becomes worse, talk to your healthcare provider.

Medical Disclaimer

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

2 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. Food and Drug Administration. Kenalog cream label

  2. Clark GW, Pope SM, Jaboori KA. Diagnosis and treatment of seborrheic dermatitisAm Fam Physician. 2015;91(3):185-190.