Fluocinonide for Psoriasis: Can It Help With Itching and Swelling? | MyPsoriasisTeam

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Fluocinonide for Psoriasis: Can It Help With Itching and Swelling?

Medically reviewed by Kelsey Stalvey, PharmD
Written by Anika Brahmbhatt
Posted on June 3, 2024

Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis because these drugs fight inflammation, one of the condition’s defining features. Corticosteroids such as fluocinonide work by holding back the body’s immune response and, as a result, reducing inflammation from psoriasis.

Some people with psoriasis wonder if fluocinonide may help ease symptoms of psoriasis such as itching and swelling. MyPsoriasisTeam members often discuss these symptoms, posting comments like these:

  • “[The] itching is horrible and infecting my skin … and no itching pill or lotion works for me.”
  • “I am with you on that — itching all over.”
  • “My hands are swelling and hurting.”
  • “Have very swollen hands/wrists today … not good :(”

Medicines like fluocinonide may slow down the growth of skin cells, reducing symptoms like itching, swelling, scaling, and discoloration. Read on to learn more about fluocinonide and whether it might be a good option for you.

What Is Fluocinonide?

Fluocinonide is a topical corticosteroid (applied to the skin) that can be used to treat symptoms such as itching, dryness, crusting, scaling, discoloration, swelling, and discomfort. You need a prescription for fluocinonide, which is used for skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema.

Fluocinonide may be sold under brand names such as Lidex and Vanos. Compared to over-the-counter topical steroids like hydrocortisone, medicines with fluocinonide have a higher potency. This means you may be able to use less of the drug to get the effect you want. For example, Vanos cream, 0.1 percent, is a super-potent, ultra-high-strength topical medication. Lidex cream, gel, ointment, or solution, 0.05 percent, is a high-strength topical treatment.

Your health care provider might suggest using a fluocinonide product by itself or with another psoriasis treatment.

How Can Fluocinonide Help Psoriasis Symptoms?

Fluocinonide medications may provide relief from psoriasis symptoms. When you apply this medicine, it activates natural substances in your skin that work against itching, swelling, and discoloration.

Steps for Using Fluocinonide

Fluocinonide is available as a cream, gel or jelly, ointment, emollient cream, and solution. The product should be stored at room temperature in a spot that isn’t too humid (not in the bathroom, for example).

People usually use fluocinonide at least once daily, up to four times a day. Follow these steps to get the most out of a topical psoriasis treatment like fluocinonide:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Apply a thin layer of the medication to the affected area.
  3. Gently rub in the medication.
  4. Wash your hands again.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, don’t wrap the treated skin. Wrapping or bandaging might increase the side effects (discussed below). However, if you have been told to use a skin dressing, make sure you know how to apply it correctly.

Other Factors To Keep in Mind

Make sure to always follow the dosage guidelines your doctor gives you, which will depend on your symptoms. If you forget a dose, apply it as soon as you can, but don’t use a double dose.

Don’t use fluocinonide on areas of skin that have cuts, scrapes, or burns or to treat skin infections. If you accidentally get fluocinonide where it shouldn’t be used, quickly rinse the skin with water. Also, before you start this medication, tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Following the proper steps for use and taking precautions to avoid side effects can help you find relief from your psoriasis symptoms. If you don’t start to see improvement within two weeks, check with your doctor for further medical advice.

What Are the Side Effects of Fluocinonide?

If you’re using fluocinonide, it’s important to keep an eye out for side effects. Also known as adverse effects, these include:

  • Burning, irritation, or dryness
  • Discoloration, bruising, or shiny skin
  • Small discolored or white bumps on the skin
  • A rash around your mouth
  • Acne

If any of those adverse effects on your skin are severe or last a long time, tell your doctor. Also let your doctor know if you develop other common side effects of steroid treatments, including weight gain, more body hair growth, a puffy face, or sleep problems.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • A severe rash
  • Signs of skin infection (discoloration, swelling, oozing) where you used fluocinonide
  • Changes in how fat is distributed around your body
  • Unusual tiredness or muscle weakness
  • Depression and irritability

Check in with your health care professional if you’re concerned about the risk of side effects, drug interactions, or worse skin problems. Also, be sure you understand the risks of topical steroid withdrawal, which may especially occur with high- to super-high-potency products like fluocinonide. Your provider should take the time to make sure you’re well informed about any new treatment you start and your related concerns.

What Do MyPsoriasisTeam Members Say About Using Fluocinonide?

MyPsoriasisTeam members have reported mixed results when it comes to topical steroid treatments. “My scalp itch is so bad I couldn’t fall asleep. My prescription is fluocinonide topical solution. It doesn’t work for me,” wrote one member.

Another member described how topical treatment is a part of their routine: “I continually moisturize and am using topical steroid lotions as directed. My dermatologist has me switch it up between the topicals, and I do see better results doing that. Some of the steroids I have to use carefully because they become irritating.”

“Topical medication seems to help my condition,” shared a third MyPsoriasisTeam member. “I am trying to assess all the information out there and eliminate it with trial and error.”

The best way to stay on top of your psoriasis treatment is to communicate openly with your dermatologist about your questions and concerns. If you’re curious about whether fluocinonide or another topical corticosteroid can help with itching, swelling, or other psoriasis symptoms, check in with your health care provider.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 129,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you used fluocinonide or other topical steroid treatments for your psoriasis? Have they helped ease your itching and swelling? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on June 3, 2024
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    Kelsey Stalvey, PharmD received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Pacific University School of Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon, and went on to complete a one-year postgraduate residency at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. Learn more about her here.
    Anika Brahmbhatt is an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in media science and psychology. Learn more about her here.

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