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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

Betnovate is a potent prescription-only skin product for short-term treatment of inflammation, itching and irritation. It's a steroid cream used to treat eczema, psoriasis, heat rash and insect bites, among other conditions. It’s often prescribed when a patient has seen little result with milder creams.

The active component of Betnovate is a steroid called betamethasone valerate, at 0.122% strength, and it comes as either a cream or an ointment.

What is it used for?

Betnovate is suitable if you have moderate to severe eczema, psoriasis or other inflammatory skin conditions. Steroid creams dampen down inflammation to ease irritated, sore and itchy skin. A moisturiser can then help that skin to repair. Steroid creams differ in their strengths (called potency). Betnovate is the third strongest out of four possible strengths.

If you have tried moisturising using a non-fragranced moisturiser with a high paraffin base and seen no improvement, then you could try hydrocortisone cream (a mild potency steroid cream) or Eumovate (a moderate potency steroid cream), both of which can be bought directly from your pharmacist.

Betnovate is much stronger than these creams, with a high potency. Your doctor will assess your skin condition and decide the best strength of steroid for your condition. Most people prefer the consistency of creams as they sink in quicker than ointments, which are thicker and greasier. This means creams are a good option if you’re using this alongside a moisturiser. Ointments are reserved for if you have dry or flaky areas of skin.

Betnovate is suitable for anyone over the age of one, but caution is added for any steroid creams being used in children under the age of 10. Your doctor will be able to advise.

If you have an inflamed patch on your face, consult with your doctor before using any steroid cream.

How does it work?

Betnovate is a type of medicine known as a steroid (corticosteroid). Steroids are not the same as anabolic steroids. When inflammation is present due to an autoimmune or sensitivity reaction, Betnovate reduces the body's response to inflammatory reactions. It works for up to 12 hours, and also promotes healing.

Any reason to avoid it? Any side effects?

Betnovate can only be used for flare-ups, rather than as a prevention. All steroid creams should only be used for a short period of time before having a break – this is usually limited to two weeks maximum, but your doctor will be able to advise on your specific case.

If you haven't seen much improvement in this time, you should book again for a review.

Steroid creams shouldn't be used on open skin or sensitive areas of the body, such as the face, unless your doctor has advised you to do so. Similarly, it is only for external use only.

Betnovate is generally very safe, where most people do not have any side effects in short-term use. Your doctor will advise you to take breaks every two to three weeks – this is to prevent long-term side effects of steroid use such as changes to the colour or thickness of the skin.

Very rarely you may have an allergic reaction to Betnovate. You should seek medical attention if you suspect this: soreness and redness may increase, or you may develop red bumps or have a spreading rash.

A slight burning sensation when first applied is normal in some – it gives an indication of the irritation your skin is under. It should disappear after a few days of applying (and as the skin heals), but see your doctor if this persists or gets worse.

How do I apply it?

Wash and dry your hands and then squeeze out the right amount. It is recommended to use a pea-size amount for a palm-size surface area. Spread the cream or ointment in a thin layer over the area of irritated skin. Carefully smooth it into your skin in the direction the hair grows until it disappears. Be careful not to get the cream into broken skin or cuts. Wash your hands afterwards (unless you are treating the skin on your hands).

Make sure if treating eczema that you are moisturising at least twice a day to maximise the effect of Betnovate and also to help the skin barrier repair and protect in future.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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