Hydrocortisone 1% Cream & Ointment
  • Hydrocortisone 1% Cream & Ointment

Hydrocortisone 1%

Medication features

  • Available as a cream or ointment
  • Helps to treat eczema, broken & infected skin
  • Helps to reduce itching & swelling
  • Not to be applied on the face, neck, or sensitive areas of skin


Order Hydrocortisone Cream or Ointment Online

Hydrocortisone cream (UK) or ointment is available online from Simple Online Pharmacy. We offer it as part of our online doctor service. We ask that you fill in an online medical questionnaire when you order. This is checked by our doctors to make sure it is safe for you before prescribing it. 

If approved, our doctors will send a prescription to our pharmacy team. From here, it is dispensed and sent out for delivery to your chosen address.

This service is only available to patients who have been prescribed this medicine by their GP or dermatologist previously. You should be regularly monitored by your GP or dermatologist when using this medicine.

What is Hydrocortisone?

Hydrocortisone is a type of steroid medicine called a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are different from anabolic steroids. Topical hydrocortisone is used to treat skin problems that cause inflammation like eczema (dermatitis). It is available as hydrocortisone cream 1% and hydrocortisone ointment 1%, as well as in other strengths.

Topical hydrocortisone is a mild steroid and is not as potent as some other topical steroids. Small 15g sizes of hydrocortisone are available over the counter after a discussion with a pharmacist. This includes brands like Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream. Larger sizes, like the 50g size, are only available on prescription.

How does Hydrocortisone work?

Eczema is a common and chronic problem that can make the skin become itchy, inflamed, and dry. In eczema, the skin barrier is damaged and this can cause water loss from the skin leading to dryness and itching. It is also thought to allow allergens to irritate the skin more easily, leading to inflammation.

Hydrocortisone, like other corticosteroids, acts to reduce inflammation. It does this by blocking inflammatory chemicals released from skin cells, which helps to reduce inflammation. This reduces the swelling, inflammation and redness that happens during an eczema flare-up.

Steroid creams are useful to treat flare-ups of eczema short-term. Once the skin improves, the steroid cream is usually stopped. People can then use other treatments daily such as emollients

Hydrocortisone alternatives

There are various steroid creams used to treat eczema and other conditions. Topical steroids are classed as mild, moderate, potent, and very potent in strength. Other steroid creams include:

Hydrocortisone 1% is classed as a mild topical steroid.

Hydrocortisone prices

30g cream x 1


50g cream x 1


50g cream x 2


50g ointment x 1


50g ointment x 2


Hydrocortisone summary

Type of medicine

Topical corticosteroid

How it works

Reduces skin inflammation, swelling and redness

How long it takes

Should start to improve flare-ups within a few days


From £7.99


What is hydrocortisone cream used for?

Hydrocortisone cream is used to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. It can be used to treat other things such as insect bite and sting reactions and nappy rash.

Why is hydrocortisone bad for you?

When used correctly, topical hydrocortisone can be effective at treating conditions like eczema, while rarely causing side effects. Serious side effects of topical hydrocortisone (like thinning of the skin) are more likely to happen if people apply the cream incorrectly. This includes using too much cream and using the cream for long periods of time.

Is hydrocortisone cream a steroid?

Yes, topical hydrocortisone is a type of steroid cream called a corticosteroid. This is different from anabolic steroids.

How long does it take for hydrocortisone cream to work?

Hydrocortisone should improve eczema flare-ups within a few days of applying it to the area. If you find your eczema does not improve after using hydrocortisone, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Is it bad to use hydrocortisone every day?

Using topical hydrocortisone every day for a short period of time is sometimes advised. It should not be used every day in the long term because this can cause irreversible side effects. You should only use it for as long as advised by your doctor.

Can you buy hydrocortisone cream over the counter?

Lower strengths (0.1% and 1%) and smaller pack sizes can be bought over the counter in pharmacies. Higher strengths and/or larger pack sizes are only available on prescription.  

You can order hydrocortisone online from our online doctor service. Our doctors can prescribe larger pack sizes of hydrocortisone than the over the counter products. To request to order, you will need to complete an online assessment form for our doctors to review. If approved, this can be delivered to you from our pharmacy team using Royal Mail (next working day delivery options available).

Content Reviewed: 11/11/2020

Side Effects

When hydrocortisone is used correctly, it rarely causes serious side effects. The risk of side effects increases with long-term treatment and if applying to large areas of skin. If you put a dressing over the area after applying topical steroids, it can also increase the risk of side effects.

Some people may feel a burning or stinging sensation when they put the cream on their skin. Rare but serious side effects include thinning of the skin and a change in the colour of the skin. To minimise the risk of side effects do not use it for longer than advised by your doctor. Further information on side effects is in the patient information leaflet.


Info Leaflet

Before taking any medication, it is important to read the Patient Information Leaflet. You can find information leaflets for your medicines by typing them into the search bar at medicines.org, or by contacting us.


Applying the cream

Steroid creams can have side effects if not used correctly. It is important to use hydrocortisone exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Hydrocortisone is usually applied to the affected area of skin once or twice daily. 

It should be applied thinly to reduce the chances of side effects. Areas like your anal or genital areas are more sensitive and your doctor may tell you to use less on these areas.

Hydrocortisone is available as a cream or an ointment. Both types contain the same amount of hydrocortisone but are slightly different. Creams are suitable for weepy or moist skin and they are not as greasy as ointments. 

Ointments are more suitable for dry or scaly skin but people often find them more greasy. In general, ointments are generally less likely to cause irritation because they do not contain preservatives.

Moisturisers and emollients can be used alongside hydrocortisone cream but you should leave 30 minutes between applying different products. 


Other conditions and hydrocortisone

Hydrocortisone products are generally safe to use for most people. It is not suitable to use if you have had an allergic reaction to hydrocortisone in the past. People with an active skin infection like athlete’s foot or cold sores should not apply hydrocortisone to these areas. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Interactions with other medicines

Topical hydrocortisone is unlikely to interact with any other medicines. However, you should still mention other medicines you use to your doctor. If you apply different topical products like emollients, you should leave 30 minutes between applying hydrocortisone and these other products.

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