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What is it: Desonide lotion

Is a Solution for:
Reviewed by Copley February 2, 2009 23 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.
  • 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.

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