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What is it: Desonide lotion

Is a Solution for:
February 2, 2009 Reviewed by admin 25 Comments
Desonide lotion is my face's best friend right now. And by that, I mean the kind of best friend you meet through a particular third-party and get to see every once in a while. You see, Desonide lotion can only be obtained through a prescription. My first encounter with Desonide was several months ago, when my dermatologist recommended it to treat a bout of dry skin that cropped up on my chin.

After several nights of applying layers upon layers of heavy moisturizers to the area, the dry patches persisted, only now with a few clogged pores for spare company. I knew that something more severe was at work on my skin when my doctor sent me to the drugstore with a prescription for Desonide, the generic name of a low potency topical corticosteroid. My generic version ended up costing about $30, though it can be found for around $100 more under the brand names Desonate, DesOwen, LoKara, and Verdeso.

The lotion healed my troubled chin area instantly. Where I had once sported red, scaly patches that seemed to be in a constant state of molting (doesn't that sound attractive?), Desonide recouped a clear swath of skin. It worked so swiftly that I nearly forgot about my newfound friend, that is, until my dry patches came back to haunt me owing to a combination of germ-infested plane rides, plummeting temperature/humidity levels, and any number of unfamiliar face products (what I do for the sake of TIA..). No matter the cause, Desonide came to the rescue once again.

With the help of a friend in pharmacology school, I waded through a jumble of drug-related jargon to decipher what makes this potion so magical.  Desonide is intended to address atopic dermatitis (chronic inflammation triggered by an allergic hypersensitivity) and dermatoses (skin diseases not accompanied by inflammation). At 0.05%, Desonide belongs to one of the mildest and weakest classes of topical steroids, which is a good thing since steroids can produce a number of adverse side effects, including allergic contact dermatitis, atrophy, addiction, folliculitis, perioral dermatitis, ocular effects, tachyphylaxis (development of rapidly decreasing response to drug), among other bodily reactions.

Because of its long-term effects on the body, it is meant to be used only sparingly, applied with the smallest amount needed to cover the affected area. Furthermore, use of Desonide should be discontinued once control of symptoms is achieved or if no improvement is seen within two weeks. It is usually necessary to reduce use gradually to wean your skin off it. Abruptly stopping can result in renewed flare ups. Corticosteroids like Desonide work by stimulating the synthesis of enzymes needed to decrease inflammation, suppress mitotic activity (the degree to which a group of cells proliferate), and cause vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels).

Even though I am indebted to Desonide for clearing up my atopic dermatitis, it is clearly not a cure-all for everyone, especially those allergic to steroids. Because of its high-risk profile, Desonide should only be administered under the supervision of a physician. I keep my bottle of Desonide on-hand only in case of emergencies, both to preserve the delicate, thin skin of my face and to prevent it from absorbing the profusion of nasty chemicals that I came across while scrutinizing the label.

Each gram contains .5mg of Desonide in a base of sodium lauryl sulfate, light mineral oil, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, propylene glycol, methylparaben, propylparaben, sorbitan monostearate, glyceryl stearate SE, edetate sodium, citric acid anhydrous, and purified water. My little Desonide seems to have fallen in with the wrong crowd. But I suppose there's no point in throwing the baby out with the bath water.
  • May 18, 2018

    by Betty

    Have been using desonide lotion for several years- in small applications to my face- whenever flaky-itchy skin has multiplied. This condition seems to manifest itself during the summer months....however, it is seemingly the only product that actually works and thus far without any noticeable side effects.

  • September 27, 2017

    by Dalila

    Excellent review on this medication. This medicine helps me throughout the summer when my skin roasts from the sun. Thank you for sharing.

  • April 20, 2017

    by Marta

    Hi Scott, you could take a look at Deciem's Retin Oil:

  • April 18, 2017

    by Scott

    What is the best treatment to remove age spots from hands?

  • November 21, 2015

    by Marta

    Jinu, this is a specialist product for atopic dermatitus. You can find eye creams for treating dark circles here:

  • November 21, 2015

    by jinu

    Hi..i s this desowen desonide lotion good for dark circles.??.. My skin is dry,.
    Pls reply me as soon as possible.

  • November 9, 2015

    by Marta

    Hi Doris, I just read a blog post by a doctor about the sudden soaring in the price of desonide - his patients are being charged $111. I'm not sure what to suggest other than asking whoever prescribed it for you. OTC options are unlikely to work as well but include Aquanil HC or Exederm.

  • November 9, 2015

    by Doris

    I have Irritant dermatitis and have a prescription for Desonide Lotion. The Drugstore
    said it would cost me $70.00. This seems very high for a lotion? Is there a similar
    drug I could use that wouldn't be that costly ?

  • October 21, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Ike, glad to be of help. I think you can go back to just once a day and aim to wean off over 3 weeks. Thinking about it, another option could be try a milder steroid cream such as Exederm (1% cortisone) and see if that takes down your current symptoms. It can be bought in any drugstore for about $6 and the weaning off can be much shorter if at all.

  • October 21, 2014

    by Ike

    Many thanks for your reply.
    Should I use it TWICE (like i was) a day for 3,4 days straight and then every other day also twice a day? Wean off twice a day basically? Also if all goes well, about how long do you think the weaning process should take? Appreciate it.

  • October 21, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Ike, you can't cold turkey from Desonide. You have to stop using it over time. If you cold turkey, you will as you have found simply get your symptoms back. Either you can wait it out, or go back to Desonide with a program to wean yourself off it. Star using it again for 3-4 days straight and then go down to every other day for a week, then every 2-3 days and so on until you can stop using it without flare ups.

  • October 21, 2014

    by Ike

    Been using Desonide .05 lotion for about 15 years, twice a day on my face, not knowing it was a cortisone cream. I stopped using past couple of weeks, and my face is very red and itchy. What can I do to stop the burning and the redness? It looks like I am sunburned. It's a very uncomfortable feeling. I hope I didn't get into anything too serious and hopefully, I will be back to normal soon.
    I started taking this after I took Acutane many years ago and just continued using it, thinking it was harmless. Any good advice? Ty!

  • June 7, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Kevin, that is a typical (although perhaps severe) reaction. You simply cannot come off Desonide and cold turkey. Your skin will immediately - as yours is doing - show an extreme version of your original symptoms. My dermatologist was very clear about this and directed me to wean myself off it slowly. If you've been using it once a day, then move to every other day for a couple of weeks and then every two days for a week or so and so until you can leave it out completely.

  • June 6, 2014

    by Kevin

    I have been using desonide lotion for about 5 years now. My dermatologist just took me off of it due to concerns of thinning skin cells. Apparently I was using it too much as I now have self diagnosed myself with red skin syndrome. After 5 days of being off the stuff I look like my face has been sun burnt and I have weepy sores and acne along with it. The feeling is itchy, burning and painful all at the same time. Right now I am wishing I had never used the stuff but it did help my Sbhorric Dermatitis for the last 5 years.

  • May 4, 2014

    by Joe

    After four days of applying Desonide, it appears the tightness, dryness and flakiness have been reduced dramatically. Two questions: should users of Desonide be concerned about possible eye damage? And, as several respondents here have stated, should users be worried about wrinkles being caused or exacerbated with the use of Desonide?

  • August 1, 2013

    by chirs

    I used it as recommended then my lips got pretty bad after rinsing them so I used it again for a day or too and they aren't red anymore but I'll probably still have to wait out the healing part, it takes a really long time

  • July 5, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Kate, I believe that using Cetaphil and Desonide at the same time should be fine.

  • July 4, 2013

    by kate

    Can desonide lotion .05% be safely used in conjunction with Cetaphil lotion?

  • June 9, 2013

    by jithin

    AM using desonide lotion in may hair as directed by my physician. Is their any problem in it?
    Also i would like to know whether it is good for the treatment for excessive hair fall??
    pls replay

  • May 22, 2013

    by Mary

    Is Desonide good for chronic itching. I am currently using Betamethasone DP (OP.05%)

  • December 1, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Jay, I was given a prescription for Desonide specifically for rosacea when I had a particularly bad bout. It worked a treat. I then used it whenever flare ups threatened and it worked well to keep them at bay.

  • November 30, 2012

    by jay

    How about rosacea? Has anyone else found desonide to work well for that?

  • January 5, 2012

    by eileen

    I have the misforune of having the "heart break of psoriasis". I have both desonide cream and triamcinolone. My concern is applying to my face in case of causing even more well before my years wrinkles I have from 25 yrs. of tanning beds and chiro's light treatments. Please answer, these creams speed up the wrinlinkg process also??? Very VERY curious. Please get back a.s.a.p.. Thank you!

  • December 27, 2009

    by Susan Fry

    You didn't have dry skin, you had psoraisis -- lucky for you, a mild outbreak. Chances are you will have more -- and worse -- at other times in your life. Be smart and start eating a diet that will minimize it now...and eat lots of fish and/or take fish oil!

  • February 2, 2009

    by Anne

    Atopic dermatitis is a funny condition in that it is commonly mistaken as "dry skin" but usually requires more than just a heavy moisturizing treatment. It's great to know that desonide worked for you and that others may have better luck treating their problem areas with this relatively benign steroid. Thanks for the information!

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