Adults and children use over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams in safe amounts

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- One of the downsides of summer can be the itchy skin that goes hand-in-hand with this season of bug bites, sun-related rashes and poison ivy. But researchers have some good news: Adults and children generally apply the product that is commonly used to treat these conditions over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream (HC) in safe and appropriate amounts.

Charles N. Ellis, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health System said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of study participants who complied with the usage guidelines. Ellis is the lead author of the study, which appears early in the online edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

"The people in the study reported that they're following the label in large part," says Ellis, professor and associate chair of dermatology in the U-M Medical School, and chief of the Dermatology Service at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. "Not many of them have used it beyond the suggested amount of time, and not many used it more often than recommended."

"Our findings suggest that people who use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream generally do so in a way that is likely to be safe," he says.

Adults were found to be compliant with the instructions about three-quarters of the time, and they reported following the recommendations for treating children about as often. The most common way in which people were not compliant with directed uses was in using the creams to treat cuts. It also was used to treat acne, athlete's foot, arthritis and jock itch, against the recommendations on the label. HC is not effective in treating these conditions.

The 2,000 study participants were asked in phone interviews if they had used over-the-counter hydrocortisone products such as Cortaid, Cortizone 10 or other similar products in the past six months. Those who had used OTC hydrocortisone products were asked questions about their patterns of use. They an


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