Topicort (Desoximetasone) - Topical

What Is Topicort?

Topicort (desoximetasone) is a corticosteroid (commonly called a steroid). It is prescribed to relieve itching and inflammation caused by skin conditions such as eczema and plaque psoriasis. It is a topical drug, which means you apply it directly to the skin.

Topicort contains the active ingredient desoximetasone, which is classified as a high-potency corticosteroid. It works by blocking certain processes that lead to skin inflammation. Topicort works to relieve itching, swelling, and discomfort caused by inflammation.

Topicort comes in several forms, including cream, gel, ointment, and spray.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Desoximetasone

Brand Name(s): Topicort

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Topical 

Therapeutic Classification: High-potency corticosteroid

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Desoximetasone

Dosage Form(s): Cream, gel, ointment, spray

What Is Topicort Used For?

Topical steroids, such as Topicort, are used to treat chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Specifically, topical steroids help relieve symptoms that arise when the condition flares up, such as itching.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Topicort spray to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

Topicort cream, gel, and ointment are FDA-approved to relieve itching and inflammation caused by a steroid-responsive skin condition.

“Steroid-responsive” means that the condition's symptoms are relieved with steroid use. A common example is atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. Symptoms often include patches of dry, scaly, itchy skin.

How to Apply Topicort

The instructions for applying Topicort depend on which form you’re using.

Topicort Spray

Spray a thin film of Topicort spray onto the affected skin areas twice daily for up to four weeks. Rub in gently. Avoid spraying on the face, armpits, or groin.

Topicort Cream, Gel, or Ointment

Apply a thin film of Topicort to the affected skin areas twice daily for up to four weeks. Rub in gently. 

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when using any form of Topicort:

  • Avoid getting the product in the mouth, eyes, or vagina.
  • Don’t cover the treated skin with a bandage or wrap unless instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Stop using Topicort once symptoms are under control.
  • If symptoms aren’t relieved within four weeks of use, stop applying Topicort and contact your prescriber.

Storage

Store Topicort at room temperature (between 68 F and 77 F) out of reach of children and pets. 

Topicort spray is flammable, so be sure to keep it away from candles or other open flames.

How Long Does Topicort Take to Work?

Topicort starts working soon after the first application. Most people notice symptom relief within a few days or a week of continued use. 

Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms don't get better after four weeks. They may prescribe a different treatment for you.

What Are the Side Effects of Topicort?

Short-term topical steroid use typically doesn't cause side effects when used as prescribed. But, as with most drugs, side effects of topical steroids are possible. Topicort’s side effects are listed below.

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 FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Topicort may cause the following side effects at application sites:

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have serious side effects after applying Topicort. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. 

Topicort’s serious side effects and symptoms can include the following:

  • Weakened immune system: Frequent infections, skin wounds that won’t heal, oozing, pus, or other signs of a skin infection.
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression: Fatigue, headache, weakness, and nausea. HPA axis suppression can lead to Cushing’s syndrome (a disorder in which your adrenal glands produce too much cortisol); symptoms can include anxiety, mood changes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, weight gain, and face changes.
  • Vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma can include blurry vision or other vision changes.
  • Allergic reaction: Skin peeling, hives, swelling, or trouble breathing.

Long-Term Side Effects

Topicort is not meant to be used longer than four consecutive weeks. Prolonged use increases the risk of side effects.

Report Side Effects

Topicort 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 Topicort 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 topical dosage forms (cream, gel, and ointment):
    • For redness, itching, and swelling of the skin:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area of the skin 2 times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For topical dosage form (spray):
    • For plaque psoriasis:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area of the skin 2 times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Topicort spray is not recommended for use in children with psoriasis. Due to their smaller size, children are more sensitive to the potential side effects of topical steroids.

Topicort cream, gel, or ointment may be used in children, but only in a thin layer for the shortest length of time possible to control symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about treating your child with this medication.

Missed Dose

Topicort is typically applied twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. 

You shouldn’t apply double the amount to make up for a missed dose. Always apply Topicort in a thin layer and to the affected areas of the skin.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Topicort?

If ingested or used in high amounts, Topicort can absorb into the bloodstream, which can increase the risk of severe side effects.

What Happens If I Overdose on Topicort?

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

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Topicort, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits for any problems or unwanted effects that may be caused by this medicine.

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if it become worse, check with your doctor.

After applying this medicine to the skin of your child, watch the child carefully to make sure that he or she does not get any of the medicine in the eyes or mouth. This medicine can cause serious side effects, especially in children, if it gets into the mouth and is swallowed.

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 for patients who use large amounts for a long time. Talk to your doctor if you have blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, increased thirst or urination, irritability, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

Desoximetasone spray may cause serious skin reactions, which may occur if you cover the treated skin area or use the medicine for a long time. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have thinning of the skin with easy bruising, reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin areas, acne or pimples, darkening or lightening of skin color, blistering, burning, crusting, dryness, flaking of the skin, or itching, scaling, severe redness, soreness, or swelling of the skin.

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

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).

Avoid using tight-fitting diapers or plastic pants on a child if this medicine is being used on the child's diaper area. Plastic pants and tight-fitting diapers may increase the chance of absorption of the medicine through the skin and the chance of side effects.

Do not use desoximetasone together with other topical corticosteroid-containing medicines, including betamethasone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, Cortaid®, or Lotrisone®. Using these medicines together may cause serious unwanted effects.

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

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Topicort?

Do not use Topicort if you are allergic to desoximetasone or any other ingredient in the cream, gel, ointment, or spray. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a reaction to any topical steroid in the past.

What Other Medications Interact With Topicort?

You should not use other topical steroids while using Topicort. Remember that Topicort is a strong (high-potency) steroid cream. Therefore, using other topical steroids at the same time, such as hydrocortisone cream, can raise your risk for side effects.

Other examples of drugs that contain topical steroids include:

No other medications are known to interact with Topicort. Still, it is recommended to check with your pharmacist or healthcare provider before using other topical medications or skin care products with this medication.

What Medications Are Similar?

Other topical steroids are available that are considered alternatives to Topicort. Remember that Topicort contains the active ingredient desoximetasone, a high-potency topical steroid. 

The following list includes topical steroids similar to Topicort:

  • Betamethasone: This high-potency steroid comes as a cream, foam, gel, lotion, and ointment. Examples of brand versions are Sernivo (topical spray), Diprolene (ointment), and Luxiq (a foam version used to treat scalp itching caused by psoriasis or other conditions).
  • Clobetasol: Clobetasol is an ultra-high potency steroid. It has many topical forms: shampoo, cream, ointment, lotion, spray, solution, gel, and foam. Examples of brands include Clobex (in shampoo, lotion, and spray forms) and Olux (an aerosol and foam).
  • Diflorasone: Diflorasone comes as a cream or ointment. Like Topicort, it is considered a high-potency topical steroid.
  • Fluocinonide: A high-potency topical steroid, fluocinonide is used to relieve skin itching and inflammation in people 12 years and older with chronic skin conditions. Common brand names include Lidex and Vanos.

The list above includes medications that may be prescribed for chronic skin conditions causing itchiness, such as eczema or psoriasis. It is not a list of drugs recommended for use with Topicort. You should not use more than one topical steroid at the same time. Talk to a pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Topicort used for?

    Topicort (desoximetasone) is used to relieve itch and inflammation caused by various skin conditions. Common examples are eczema (atopic dermatitis) and psoriasis. Topicort is not used to prevent the symptoms of these conditions. Instead, it is only used short-term to control flare-ups.

  • How can I lower my risk of side effects while using Topicort?

    The following tips can lower the risk of Topicort’s side effects:

    • Apply a thin layer, and only cover the affected areas of your skin.
    • Only use Topicort twice daily for up to four weeks or until symptoms are under control.
    • Don’t cover the treated skin with a bandage or tight clothing.
    • Avoid contact with your eyes, mouth, and genitals.

    It's also important to wash your hands after applying this medication to prevent transferring it to sensitive areas (such as your eyes) or other people, particularly young children.

  • Should I apply a bandage or dressing to the skin area after applying desoximetasone?

    No. After you've applied desoximetasone, don't bandage or wrap the area unless you've been specifically instructed to do so by your healthcare provider. 

    Tightly covering the area after application causes the skin to absorb more of the drug. This could lead to a higher-than-usual amount of the medication absorbing through your skin and into your bloodstream, raising your risk for negative effects.

  • Does Topicort spray work better than Topicort cream, gel, or ointment?

    These medications contain the same active ingredient (desoximetasone) and should be similarly effective. 

    Some people may find that Topicort spray is easier to use than the cream, gel, or ointment. However, remember that all forms of Topicort should be gently rubbed in with each application.

    One clinical study showed that twice-daily use of Topicort spray was effective for relieving itching within one week. However, this study did not compare the spray to any other drug or form.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Topicort?

Topicort can be highly effective for controlling short-term skin itching and inflammation related to skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Taking good care of your skin can help prevent or reduce the severity of flare-ups. This may include avoiding triggers like stress and resisting the urge to scratch. In addition, certain medications, like beta-blockers and lithium, are known to trigger psoriasis flares. Tell your rheumatologist or dermatologist about all your medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

Talk to your dermatologist or another healthcare provider about the best way to care for your skin type, including how to choose cleansers, moisturizers, or emollients.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace 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.

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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.
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  3. Food and Drug Administration. Topicort (desoximetasone) topical spray label.

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By Patricia Weiser, PharmD
Patricia Weiser, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She has more than 14 years of professional experience.