GENERIC NAME: betamethasone dipropionate
BRAND NAME: Diprolene, Diprolene AF, Luxiq, (Diprosone and Alphatrex have been discontinued)
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Betamethasone is a synthetic (man-made) corticosteroid that is used topically (on the skin). Betamethasone mimics the action of cortisol (hydrocortisone), the naturally-occurring steroid produced in the body by the adrenal glands. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory actions and also suppress the immune response. Corticosteroids have many effects on the body, but they most often are used for their potent anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in those conditions in which the immune system plays an important role. The FDA approved betamethasone in July 1983.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Betamethasone is used for the relief of itching and inflammation associated with a wide variety of skin conditions in patients 13 years of age or older. Examples include allergic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and plaque psoriasis.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of betamethasone are:
- burning at the area of application,
- irritation, and
Topical application of corticosteroids may suppress the body's production of cortisol. If suppression has occurred for a long enough period of time, discontinuing the potent corticosteroid can be associated with symptoms of cortisol deficiency. (It takes the adrenal glands some time before they can begin producing cortisol again.) Absorption of potent corticosteroids can increase the glucose concentration in the blood (especially worrisome in people with diabetes) and cause symptoms of steroid excess such as:
- (weight gain,
- redistribution of fat stores, and
- psychiatric problems).
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