Triamcinolone acetonide is a prescription medication. Doctors may prescribe it to relieve redness, swelling, and discomfort associated with various skin conditions, including eczema.

Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become irritated, itchy, red, flaky, and bumpy. A combination of environmental factors and genetics may cause the condition. Approximately 31.6 million people in the United States have some form of eczema.

There is currently no cure for eczema, but a doctor can suggest treatments depending on the type of eczema and severity. In moderate to severe eczema, a dermatologist may provide prescription medications such as triamcinolone.

This article discusses triamcinolone acetonide cream and its benefits for eczema. It also explores possible side effects and how to use the cream.

A person applies triamcinolone acetonide cream for eczema to their arms.Share on Pinterest
Vasil Kamalov/EyeEm/Getty Images

Triamcinolone is a synthetic corticosteroid drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1957. Doctors have used it to treat various inflammatory, allergic, and autoimmune conditions, including:

Triamcinolone is a glucocorticoid, a type of corticosteroid that reduces the body’s inflammatory response by acting on the immune system. It prevents the formation of chemicals responsible for inflammation. It also prevents the migration of white blood cells, such as macrophages and leukocytes, to the affected site.

Triamcinolone is available in different formulations, including:

  • ointment
  • tablet
  • cream
  • lotion
  • nasal spray
  • dental paste
  • injection

Triamcinolone acetonide has a different chemical structure than triamcinolone. It comes in different doses and is available with different brand names. Some brand names include:

  • Triderm
  • Kenalog
  • Trianex
  • Volon A
  • Nasacort

Triamcinolone acetonide is a medication for eczema and other skin conditions. A person will need a prescription to purchase it.

According to a 2018 study, 0.02% triamcinolone acetonide cream for facial dermatitis significantly improved:

  • skin hydration
  • transepidermal water loss, which refers to water loss through the epidermal layers of the skin
  • physician clinical assessment

Triamcinolone acetonide is also six to seven times more potent than prednisolone, another prescription medication for eczema.

A 2020 study comparing 5% fumaric acid cream and 0.1% triamcinolone cream in treating hand eczema found that triamcinolone was more effective in treating skin picking and lichenification.

People with eczema may also develop keloid scars. Aside from inflammation, redness, and itching, triamcinolone acetonide cream is also an effective short-term treatment for keloids and hypertrophic scars.

Like all medicines, triamcinolone can cause side effects in some people. A person may experience burning, itching, dryness, or skin irritation after applying the medication. Other side effects include:

  • acne
  • rashes
  • unwanted hair growth
  • changes in skin color
  • small bumps or rash around the mouth

Most of these side effects do not typically require medical attention. However, a person can tell their doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Long-term use of glucocorticoids or too much of them in the bloodstream may cause an individual to develop other conditions, such as :

Interactions

Taking medications and substances together with triamcinolone may alter its effect or increase their risk of side effects. A person should keep a list of all the medicines and supplements they take and share it with their doctors.

Risks

Triamcinolone is an immunosuppressant, so it may increase a person’s risk of infections. It may also temporarily delay growth in children.

People with severe hypertension and congestive heart failure are at an increased risk of edema and weight gain while using triamcinolone. However, they should not abruptly stop using the medication, as this can lead to adrenal insufficiency.

Pregnant people should discuss using triamcinolone with their obstetrician. There are no studies on whether the substance passes into breastmilk. Additionally, children under 2 years of age should not use it at all.

Rarely, triamcinolone may cause a severe, life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. A person needs immediate medical attention if they show symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face or mouth
  • wheezing
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • a fast heart rate
  • clammy skin
  • anxiety or confusion
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • blue or white lips
  • fainting or loss of consciousness

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
  2. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  3. Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
  4. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.

A person should only apply this medication to the skin. They should not use it on sensitive areas, including the face, underarms, or groin, unless their doctor recommends it.

People should follow the instructions on the label or as their doctor explains.

Below are some guidelines on using triamcinolone:

  • Wash and dry hands before use.
  • Clean and dry the affected area before applying the medication.
  • Apply a thin film to the affected area and gently rub it into the skin.
  • Apply it to the affected area two to three times daily or as a doctor directs.
  • Do not cover the area with a wrap, bandage, or dressing unless a doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Do not use the medication more than a doctor directs or prescribes.
  • Do not abruptly stop or change medications without the doctor’s approval.

A person should store their triamcinolone acetonide cream in a cool, dry place at room temperature. The ointment may be difficult to squeeze out from the tube if it is too cold. A person should also not store it in a bathroom, as heat and dampness may cause the medication to break down and turn watery.

People should keep it out of reach of children and dispose of it once it has expired or is no longer in use.

Triamcinolone acetonide cream is a prescription medication for skin disorders, including eczema, rashes, and allergies. It is a potent corticosteroid that counteracts swelling and inflammation. It also prevents the immune system from overacting, a common problem with many skin conditions, such as eczema.

Like other medicines, triamcinolone acetonide may cause adverse reactions. A person should inform their doctors about all their health conditions and medications they are taking to prevent interactions.

People should use the medication as a doctor prescribes to prevent side effects and overuse. A person should also ask their doctor any questions they have about using triamcinolone acetonide cream.