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Hydrocortisone cream for babies: safety, risks, alternatives | My Baby My Star

Babies can suffer from itchy, red skin for a variety of reasons. Your skin is sensitive and easily irritated. While hydrocortisone Cream is a must for adults with irritated skin, it is not usually recommended for children under the age of 2 unless otherwise directed by a healthcare provider.

This article will discuss hydrocortisone cream and babies and other ways to treat itchy skin.

Narong Jongsirikul / EyeEm

What is hydrocortisone cream?

Hydrocortisone cream is a topical corticosteroid Medication. It works by activating the natural substances in the skin that can reduce swelling.

It is used to treat skin conditions that cause redness, swelling, or itching of the skin. Hydrocortisone cream can help relieve these symptoms but will not cure the underlying cause. Hydrocortisone cream should always be used exactly as directed by your doctor.

Unless directed by a pediatrician or other healthcare provider, hydrocortisone cream is generally not recommended for babies under the age of 2 due to the potential health risks involved. Although harmful side effects are rare, children who use hydrocortisone cream regularly for a long time may be more likely to experience slowed growth rates and delayed weight gain.

side effects and risks

Common side effects of hydrocortisone cream include skin dryness and irritation, and increased hair growth. Side effects to report to your doctor include:

What makes my baby itchy?

The best way to treat your baby’s itchy skin is to identify the underlying cause. From there, you and your child’s pediatrician can determine the right treatment plan for your child.

Diaper Rash (Baby Contact Dermatitis)

Diaper rash is a common skin condition that most babies experience at some point. It occurs when the skin underneath the diaper tears, causing a red rash.

Common symptoms of diaper rash include redness and irritation on the skin under the diaper. Diaper rash can be very uncomfortable. If home remedies are not effective, consult your GP or pediatrician.

Treatments and home remedies for diaper rash

The key to treating diaper rash is prevention. Help your child avoid diaper rash by changing dirty diapers (even wet ones) as soon as possible. If moisture is trapped in the diaper, it can cause skin damage. Other diaper rash remedies include:

  • Gentle cleaning: To prevent catching diaper rash, it’s important to keep your child’s skin clean and dry. Use a warm washcloth or alcohol-free wipes when changing your child’s diaper. If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle with warm water to avoid rubbing the skin.
  • Go diaper free: After washing your child’s skin, keep them diaper-free for as long as possible. This allows the skin to air dry, which can lead to faster healing.
  • zinc oxide: Choose a diaper cream that contains zinc oxide and use it frequently if your child has diaper rash. Apply a thick layer with each diaper change and continue until your child’s skin has healed.

baby eczema

Eczema refers to a group of conditions that cause the skin to become irritated, red, itchy, and swollen. Eczema is relatively common in babies and young children. It is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.

Eczema usually presents as a red, itchy rash. Babies usually suffer from eczema on the face and scalp. The skin can also drain clear fluid. As babies get older, you may notice eczema patches on their elbows and knees.

Toddlers usually get eczema on their elbows, knees, wrists, hands, and ankles. They can also have dry, scaly patches around the mouth and eyes.

Treatments and home remedies for eczema

One of the most effective treatments for eczema in babies is to avoid your child’s triggers. This can include saliva, sweat, dry air, tobacco smoke, pet dander, or other irritants. If you can identify your child’s triggers, work with your doctor to develop a plan to avoid them. In addition, eczema treatments for babies include:

  • humidity: Apply a thick, high-quality moisturizer to your child’s skin at least twice a day.
  • Currently calcineurin Inhibitors: These medications (recommended for children over 2 years old) can help prevent skin redness and itching.
  • antibiotics: Antibiotics may be needed if a patch of skin becomes infected from scratching.
  • antihistamines: Antihistamines may help relieve the itching associated with eczema.
  • steroid creams: Your healthcare provider may recommend a short course of steroid cream to help control your child’s eczema symptoms.
  • oatmeal bath: Adding colloidal oatmeal to your child’s bath may reduce itching.
  • Cool compress: Apply a cool, damp washcloth to your child’s skin to relieve redness and itching.
  • Prevent scratches: It is normal for babies and young children with eczema to scratch their skin. This can make eczema worse and lead to infection. Try to keep any eczema areas of skin covered and keep your child’s nails trimmed.

to avoid foods

Eczema flare-ups can be caused by allergens. If your child is allergic to a particular food or group of foods, each exposure may cause a flare-up (worsening of symptoms) of their eczema symptoms. However, it can be difficult to determine if your child’s eczema is related to food allergies, as allergic skin reactions can occur days after exposure. Doctors generally do not recommend elimination diets for eczema.

If you’re worried your child’s eczema might get worse after eating certain foods, talk to your doctor. They may recommend temporarily eliminating dairy or processed foods from your child’s diet and monitoring their skin for changes.

Bathing babies with eczema

Daily baths are an important part of treating eczema in babies. First, the bath removes dirt and other irritants from the skin. After the bath, gently pat your baby’s skin dry and apply a heavy-duty moisturizer to lock in moisture. Eczema skin is very dry, so using a moisturizer after bathing can be very effective. Be sure to use lukewarm water in your child’s bath and avoid soaps that contain dyes, fragrances, or harsh additives.


Allergic dermatitis refers to skin irritation caused by an allergic reaction. Substances like fragrances, nickel, and poison ivy can cause an itchy, red rash if they touch the skin. It is also possible to experience skin irritation from substances such as detergents or soaps. These substances can cause irritant contact dermatitis and are not considered allergic reactions.

Skin allergies in babies can present as:

  • Red itchy rash
  • Blow
  • combustion
  • Difficulty sleeping

treatments and home remedies

Treatment options vary depending on the allergen that caused your baby’s skin irritation. Your doctor may recommend short-term treatment with steroids to relieve symptoms. From there, your medical team will work with you to identify which substances are irritating your baby’s skin and how to avoid them.

Natural solutions for itchy baby skin

If you are interested in natural remedies for your baby’s itchy skin, focus on products that rehydrate the skin. Always talk to your doctor or pediatrician before incorporating any new natural product into your baby’s skincare routine. Some natural solutions are:

  • Coconut oil has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment for dry skin. It moisturizes the skin while improving the skin’s barrier function, but more studies are needed to establish it as an effective treatment for eczema. In rare cases, people can also be allergic to coconut oil.
  • Colloidal oatmeal or oat oil can add moisture and reduce inflammation. Oats have antioxidant properties that may be helpful in promoting wound healing.

To prevent skin irritation, wash your baby’s clothes in a gentle, unscented detergent. Look for baby products that are free of dyes, fragrances, or other additives.

Baby safe cream moisturizers and ointments

Most babies with red, itchy, irritated skin need regular hydration. Talk to your doctor about the following types of moisturizers for your baby’s itchy skin:

  • humectant such as glycerin and urea draw water from the environment and the skin’s surface into the deeper layers of the skin. They also help the skin shed dead cells and look healthier.
  • occlusive such as beeswax and mineral oil increase the water content of the skin by preventing water loss through evaporation. They are most effective when applied to damp skin, such as after toweling off after a shower.
  • plasticizer such as lanolin and propylene glycol linoleate act as lubricants that fill in the gaps between skin cells. They improve the hydration and suppleness of the skin.


Hydrocortisone cream is a topical corticosteroid medication used to treat redness, itching, and swelling of the skin. It is generally not recommended for children under the age of 2 unless directed to do so by your healthcare provider. Your baby’s skin may be itchy due to diaper rash, eczema, allergies or other health problems.

A word from Verywell

When your baby is uncomfortable, it is natural that you want to relieve that discomfort as soon as possible. Luckily, there are several remedies you can try to relieve your baby’s itch without using hydrocortisone cream. Talk to your doctor about natural remedies and prescription drugs.

frequently asked Questions

  • Is over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream safe for young children?

    Over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream is generally not recommended for children under the age of 2 years because, in rare cases, it may cause slowed growth rates and delayed weight gain. It is generally safe in children over the age of 2 when used for short periods (one to two weeks at a time), but if in doubt check with your pediatrician or healthcare provider.

  • How can I relieve my baby’s itchy skin?

    Talk to your doctor about ways to relieve your baby’s itchy skin. Possible treatments include moisturizers, daily baths, antihistamines, and vegetable oils.

  • Is steroid cream bad for babies?

    Strong steroid creams should be avoided in babies as they can cause slowed growth rates and delayed weight gain. However, mild steroid creams such as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream 1% can be used for babies with eczema or contact dermatitis or allergic dermatitis, but check with your pediatrician or other healthcare provider before using them.

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