Clobetasone butyrate for inflammatory skin conditions

  • You only need to use a small amount of this preparation. Apply it thinly just to the areas affected, and then massage it gently into the skin until it disappears.
  • Topical corticosteroids should not be used for long periods of time or on large areas of the body, especially in children.
  • Clobetasone butyrate (unless combined with an antibacterial agent) should not be used on any areas of infected skin.
Type of medicine Moderately potent topical corticosteroid
Used for Inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis
Also called Eumovate®
Available as Cream and ointment

Clobetasone butyrate is a moderately potent topical corticosteroid (also referred to as a topical steroid). Topical steroids are used in addition to emollients (moisturisers) for treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. A topical steroid is used when one or more patches of eczema or dermatitis flare up. It is not a cure for your condition, but it will help to relieve the symptoms of a flare-up by reducing inflammation, itching and redness. Clobetasone butyrate is available on prescription, or it can be bought over the counter at pharmacies, without a prescription.

There is also a cream available which contains clobetasone butyrate, called Trimovate®. This cream contains the antibacterial agents, oxytetracycline and nystatin. You may be prescribed this for short-term use if some areas of your skin have become infected.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using clobetasone butyrate it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you have any areas of infected skin.
  • If you have rosacea or acne.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a skin preparation.
  • Before you start using this cream/ointment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about topical steroids and a full list of side-effects that you may experience from using them.
  • Apply a small amount on to the areas of skin which are inflamed. Then gently rub it into the skin until it has disappeared.
  • Your doctor will tell you how often to apply clobetasone butyrate. It must not be applied more than twice a day, and once a day is often sufficient.
  • Do not use clobetasone butyrate on any areas of infected skin unless you have been given Trimovate® cream, which contains an antibacterial.
  • The amount of topical steroid that you should apply is commonly measured by fingertip units (FTUs). One FTU is the amount of cream that is squeezed out along an adult's fingertip (that is, from the very end of the finger to the first crease in the finger). As a guide, one FTU is enough to cover an area twice the size of an adult hand. Your doctor will give you an idea of how many FTUs you will need to cover the area of your skin which is affected.
  • If you are using more than one topical corticosteroid, make sure you know when and where to use each one. If you are unsure, check with your doctor or ask your pharmacist for further advice.
  • After you have applied clobetasone butyrate cream, wash your hands (unless your hands are the treated area).
  • Clobetasone butyrate is not suitable for children under 12 years of age unless it has been prescribed by a doctor.
  • If you are using an emollient along with clobetasone butyrate, apply the emollient first. Then wait 10-15 minutes before applying clobetasone butyrate. This allows time for the emollient to be absorbed before the topical steroid is applied. (Your skin should be moist but not slippery when you apply the clobetasone butyrate).
  • Do not use clobetasone butyrate on your face unless your doctor has said you should. If you have been told to use it on your face, be careful not to get any cream/ointment near your eyes and do not use it for longer periods of time than you have been advised.
  • Unless advised to do so by your doctor, do not apply a bandage or dressing to the area being treated, as this will increase absorption of the preparation and increase the risk of side-effects.
  • Continue to use clobetasone butyrate until the flare-up has completely gone and then stop it. A course of treatment for 7-14 days is often sufficient. If your symptoms have not improved after this time (or if they get worse), speak again with your pharmacist or doctor for further advice. Topical corticosteroids like clobetasone butyrate should not be used for long periods of time or on large areas of the body, especially in children.
  • After you stop using clobetasone butyrate, continue to use your emollients every day. This will help to prevent a further flare-up.
  • If you are using Trimovate® cream, be careful not to let the preparation come into contact with your clothing, as it may stain.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. You can reduce the risk of side-effects from topical corticosteroids like clobetasone butyrate, by applying the preparation thinly, no more than twice a day, and to the affected areas only.

Side-effects of clobetasone butyrate What can I do if I experience this?
Thinning of your skin, striae (like stretch marks), bruising, discolouration, or thin spidery blood vessels Speak with your doctor if you notice any of these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this cream/ointment, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Make sure that the person prescribing this medicine knows about any other medicines that you are taking. This includes medicines you buy and herbal and homeopathic medicines.
  • If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
  • Before using this medicine tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction after taking any medicine.
  • Never use more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
  • Manufacturer's PIL, Eumovate® Cream,; Manufacturer's PIL, Eumovate® Cream, GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2007.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Last Checked:
18/05/2012
Document ID:
4152 (v2)
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