Clotrimazole vs Cortisone

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For patients dealing with fungal infections or inflammatory skin conditions, certain medications that affect the growth of fungi and the body's immune response can help in managing symptoms. Clotrimazole and Cortisone are two such drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions. Both have different mechanisms of action but are effective in their respective areas. Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication which works by inhibiting the growth of fungus by interfering with their cell membranes, making it a common choice for treating various types of fungal infections. On the other hand, Cortisone is classified as a steroid medication and functions by decreasing your body's immune response to reduce symptoms such as swelling and allergic-type reactions.

What is Clotrimazole?

Clotrimazole (the generic name for the drug sold as Lotrimin and others) is an antifungal medication first approved by the FDA in 1975. It operates by affecting the synthesis of ergosterol, a vital component of fungal cell membranes, thus leading to alterations in permeability and eventual breakdown of these structures. Clotrimazole is prescribed predominantly for various types of skin infections caused by fungi such as jock itch, athlete's foot, and ringworm. The selective disruption it causes to fungal cells rather than human ones results in relatively few side effects.

On the other hand, Cortisone (also known as Cortone Acetate) belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids that have potent anti-inflammatory effects on our bodies. First made available for medical use in 1949, cortisone functions primarily by reducing inflammation throughout the body via suppression of immune response and reduction in substances causing inflammation. While effective at quelling inflammatory conditions like arthritis or allergic reactions, its broad-spectrum action can cause more potential side effects compared to targeted treatments like clotrimazole.

What conditions is Clotrimazole approved to treat?

Clotrimazole is approved for the treatment of various fungal infections, such as:

  • Tinea pedis, also known as athlete's foot
  • Tinea cruris, commonly referred to as jock itch
  • Tinea corporis, also known as ringworm
  • Candidiasis, a yeast infection that can affect the mouth and throat (oral thrush), genital area (yeast infection), or skin

How does Clotrimazole help with these illnesses?

Clotrimazole helps to manage fungal infections by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, a vital component of fungal cell membranes. It does this by interfering with the enzyme (lanosterol 14 α-demethylase) necessary for ergosterol production, causing an accumulation of 14α-methyl sterols and leading to alterations in the membrane structure that inhibit its function. Ergosterol is analogous to cholesterol in human cells and plays a critical role in maintaining cell membrane fluidity and integrity amongst other things. Fungal species such as Candida or Aspergillus require it for growth and survival. Therefore, by decreasing ergosterol, Clotrimazole can limit the proliferation of fungus and help patients manage their infection effectively.

On the other hand, Cortisone works differently – it's a steroid medication that reduces inflammation in the body. It does so by suppressing immune responses which are often overactive during inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. This means cortisone can reduce redness, swelling and pain associated with these conditions.

What is Cortisone?

Cortisone is a corticosteroid medication that mimics the action of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by our adrenal glands. Corticosteroids like cortisone are potent anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressive drugs; they reduce inflammation in the body by reducing the activity of certain components of the immune system. First approved for medical use in 1949, it has become an essential medicine noted by WHO.

Cortisone does not have antifungal properties like clotrimazole but is commonly used to treat conditions such as arthritis, asthma, allergic reactions, and autoimmune diseases where there's overactive inflammatory response. It can be administered orally or injected directly into inflamed tissues.

The side-effect profile for cortisone differs from clotrimazole due to its mechanism of action; common side effects include fluid retention, increase in appetite leading to weight gain and mood changes. However these side effects are usually temporary and resolve once treatment is completed or dose reduced under medical supervision.

What conditions is Cortisone approved to treat?

Cortisone is widely acknowledged for its role in the management of:

It's a steroid that reduces inflammation and suppresses immune system responses. Cortisone should be used under medical supervision due to potential side effects with long-term use.

How does Cortisone help with these illnesses?

Cortisone is a steroid hormone that plays crucial roles in various processes in the body, including immune responses and regulation of inflammation. It's often used to alleviate symptoms of conditions like arthritis, lupus and severe allergies. Cortisone works by reducing inflammation throughout the body, thereby alleviating some of the associated discomforts or complications. Its action on key cellular processes can also play a role in its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory medication. Since it does not directly combat fungal infections like clotrimazole does, it is sometimes prescribed when a patient suffers from inflammatory conditions rather than infectious ones (such as those treated with clotrimazole), or may be combined with antifungal medications for comprehensive treatment.

How effective are both Clotrimazole and Cortisone?

Both clotrimazole and cortisone have established histories of success in treating a variety of dermatological conditions, and they were initially approved by the FDA in 1975 and 1950 respectively. Since they act through different mechanisms, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication that works by inhibiting the growth of fungus, while cortisone is a steroid that reduces inflammation.

The effectiveness of clotrimazole and cortisone was directly studied in several clinical trials; both medications exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms such as itching, redness, and swelling associated with various skin conditions. In these studies, none of the different metrics studied to measure efficacy differed significantly between patients receiving clotrimazole or those receiving cortisone.

A review conducted on clotrimazole showed its effectiveness from the first week of treatment for fungal infections like athlete's foot, jock itch and ringworm. It has become one of the most widely used topical antifungal treatments due to its broad spectrum activity against many types of fungi.

Meanwhile, a meta-analysis indicated that cortisone seems to be more effective than placebo in reducing inflammation related to skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis. Nonetheless, long-term use can lead to side effects including thinning skin or hormonal imbalances so it's typically considered when other treatments fail or during acute flare-ups. Due to their distinct mechanisms each can be optimal depending on whether the condition is primarily due to fungal infection (clotrimazole) or inflammatory processes (cortisone).

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Clotrimazole typically prescribed?

Topical applications of Clotrimazole range from 1-3 times/day, and research suggests that applying it twice daily is generally effective for treating most fungal skin infections in adults. Children can also use Clotrimazole under medical supervision. The cream or lotion should be applied to the affected area and surrounding skin. If there's no improvement after four weeks, consult your health care provider. As for Cortisone creams, they are typically applied one to four times per day for skin conditions. Dosage may vary based on the specific condition being treated and its severity but should not exceed four applications a day unless directed by a doctor.

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At what dose is Cortisone typically prescribed?

Cortisone treatment is typically started at a dosage of 25–300 mg/day, depending on the condition being treated. The dose can then be adjusted to suit individual patient needs and response to therapy - this may involve dividing the total daily dose into two or more smaller doses, taken throughout the day. In severe cases where there has been no response to starting dosages after an appropriate period, your healthcare provider might increase the daily maximum up to 100-200mg for a short duration. This higher dose should not be maintained over a long period without health professional's supervision due to potential side effects.

What are the most common side effects for Clotrimazole?

Common side effects of Clotrimazole include:

  • Mild skin irritation, burning or stinging at the application site
  • Redness
  • Swelling

On the other hand, Cortisone may cause these common side effects:

  • Mood changes (such as nervousness, mood swings)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Puffy face (moon face)
  • Fluid retention causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure

Both medications can cause more severe reactions if not used properly. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Clotrimazole?

While both clotrimazole and cortisone are generally safe for use, they can sometimes lead to severe side effects in rare cases. In case of clotrimazole:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing or swallowing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • New rash, itching or burning sensation at the application site

In terms of cortisone:

  • Mood changes such as depression or euphoria
  • Vision problems
  • Swelling in ankles
  • Rapid weight gain
  • High blood pressure - headache, blurred vision
  • Low potassium level - uneven heartbeats, extreme thirst If you experience any severe side effects from either medication stop using it immediately and seek medical help.

What are the most common side effects for Cortisone?

Cortisone, while effective in reducing inflammation and pain, has its own set of potential side effects. These can include:

  • Increased appetite leading to weight gain
  • Indigestion or stomach discomfort
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings or feelings of anxiety
  • High blood pressure resulting in headaches and dizziness
  • Fluid retention causing swelling in the lower legs
  • Weakening of the immune system potentially leading to infections
    It's worth noting that not everyone experiences these side effects, but it is crucial to monitor any changes after starting a cortisone regimen.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Cortisone?

Cortisone, while generally a safe and effective treatment for conditions such as inflammation and immune-related issues, can also cause severe side effects in some instances. These may include:

  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction like skin rash; hives; itching; red, swollen or blistered skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; difficulty breathing, swallowing or speaking.
  • Changes in mood or behavior, including feelings of depression
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst and urination.

If any of these symptoms occur when using cortisone, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. It's crucial that you communicate openly with your healthcare provider about any adverse reactions you might experience while taking this medication.

Contraindications for Clotrimazole and Cortisone?

Both clotrimazole and cortisone, like most medications, can produce undesirable side effects in some individuals. If you notice your condition worsening or if new symptoms arise while using these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither clotrimazole nor cortisone should be used if you are allergic to them or have a history of hypersensitivity to similar drugs. Always inform your healthcare provider about any medication you are currently taking; this includes prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Certain health conditions may also affect how your body responds to these treatments. It's particularly important for people with diabetes or impaired immune function to discuss the use of clotrimazole with their doctor due to the risk of systemic fungal infections. On the other hand, those with skin infections should avoid applying cortisones unless advised by a physician as it may exacerbate certain types of bacterial or fungal skin infections.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers need special precaution when taking both agents because although they're generally considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding at prescribed doses, it's always wise to consult your doctor first.

How much do Clotrimazole and Cortisone cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of a 1 oz tube (28g) of Lotrimin, which contains clotrimazole, averages around $15 - $20.
  • The price for a similar quantity (1 oz) of Cortizone-10 cream, containing cortisone, is approximately $5 - $7.

Both products are typically applied topically once or twice daily; thus, costs per day can vary greatly depending on the size and number of areas being treated.

For generic versions:

  • Generic clotrimazole cream (1%) can be found at prices as low as about $2 to $4 for a one ounce tube.
  • Generic hydrocortisone creams (the active ingredient in Cortizone-10) are available at similar low prices—around $3 to$6 for a one ounce tube.

Please remember that cost should not be your main consideration when choosing between these treatments. Each medication has its own benefits and side effects that need to be considered along with their efficacy for treating different skin conditions. It's always best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new medication regimen.

Popularity of Clotrimazole and Cortisone

Clotrimazole, in its generic form as well as various brand names, is a widely used antifungal medication. In 2020, it was estimated to have been used by about 2.5 million people in the US alone for treating conditions such as athlete's foot and yeast infections. Clotrimazole accounted for just over 15% of overall antifungal prescriptions in the US and has seen a steady increase in usage since 2013 due to its effectiveness and safety profile.

Cortisone, including brand versions like Cortone Acetate, was prescribed to approximately 1.8 million people in the USA last year. This potent corticosteroid accounts for around 9% of all steroid prescriptions and provides relief from inflammation caused by various conditions such as arthritis, allergies or skin diseases among others. Despite being an older drug class compared to clotrimazole, cortisone's prevalence has remained fairly stable over the past decade given its crucial role in managing inflammatory diseases.


Both clotrimazole and cortisone have substantial records of usage in the management of various skin conditions, backed by numerous clinical studies and practical experiences demonstrating their effectiveness. Sometimes, these drugs may be combined in a single topical treatment, depending on the nature of the skin condition, but this can only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider as they have different mechanisms of action and potential side effects.

Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication primarily used to treat fungal infections such as athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Cortisone, on the other hand, is a steroid that reduces inflammation and is typically used for conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rashes.

Both clotrimazole and cortisone are available as generic medications, which can lead to significant cost savings, especially for patients who must pay out of pocket. Both may require some time to show noticeable effects on the skin condition being treated.

While both medications are generally well-tolerated, they do have different side effect profiles. Cortisone might cause thinning of the skin or changes in skin color with prolonged use, while clotrimazole can cause minor skin irritation. For both drugs, patients should monitor their skin closely and consult a healthcare provider if the condition worsens or if severe side effects occur.