Can I put Hydrocortisone on my Foreskin?

Last Updated 1/2/2023

Hydrocortisone 1% cream is used as treatment for atopic dermatitis and other types of skin conditions.

Combining Hydrocortisone with topical antifungals like miconazole or clotrimazole is best for treating any fungal infection on the penis. Hydrocortisone should only be used for brief time intervals.

Hydrocortisone is used to treat genital skin conditions like Balanitis, Eczema and sometimes Genital Herpes.

It’s mostly commonly prescribed with the combination of an antifungal cream or ointment for inflammation of the glans penis.

Today we’ll discuss the possible risks associated with putting Hydrocortisone on your Foreskin and entire genital area.

Is Hydrocortisone safe to use on genital area?

Yes, Hydrocortisone is safe to use on the foreskin and genital area. However, it’s important to know that topical steroid creams like Hydrocortisone used for long periods of time can cause sensitivity and discomfort to worsen due to it’s unfortunate skin thinning side effects.

Image of Hydrocortisone Cream anti itch

Hydrocortisone is a mild steroid cream but should mainly be used to treat and avoid flare ups, since continued use results in a weakened immune system response.

The standard treatment for patients is a topical antifungal which includes either clotrimazole 1% cream or miconazole 2%. Doctors will only prescribe topical steroid creams like Hydrocortisone 1% on occasion and only when necessary.

With that being said, if you haven’t already started on a antifungal cream or ointment, that should be your first priority. Most doctors will prescribe a cream that combines miconazole and Hydrocortisone.

How to Apply Hydrocortisone Cream on Foreskin

Apply a little amount of Hydrocortisone around the foreskin to get started. Make sure the cream reaches your penis tip, at the point where the foreskin meets the shaft.

How to Apply Hydrocortisone
NORMUK’s Ryan Pacheco Applying Hydrocortisone

Start your stretching routine by gently massaging the Hydrocortisone into the foreskin while it’s being absorbed into the skin. With extra caution, try to pull your foreskin back at this point. Stop if you feel any discomfort because doing so could make your situation worse.

Perform the above routine two to four times daily until you are able to retract your foreskin without it causing discomfort. The key to successfully treating your skin condition, is to be patient because it might take close to eight weeks for your foreskin to change position.

Applying Hydrocortisone on Penis Glans: Best Treatment For Balanitis?

Balanitis is an infection the head of the penis, or ‘glans penis’. The long name for Balanitis is balanoposthitis and balanitis xerotica obliterans. Balanitis affects other skin conditions and is characterized by inflammation of the glans penis. The most effective course of action depends on the issue’s underlying cause.

Balanitis can be can be exacerbated and caused by:

  • Eczema and Allergic Contact Dermatitis
  • Bacteria related infections and illnesses
  • Zoon’s Balanitis (Plasma Cell Balanitis)
  • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
  • Yeast and other fungal infections
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Tight Clothing
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Underlying Condition (like allergy to latex condoms)

As previously mentioned, Hydrocortisone is a topical corticosteroid that helps to relieve inflammation, whereas miconazole is a topical antifungal. If your doctor didn’t prescribe a combination of the two, it’s advisable that you go to your local pharmacy to pick up a topical antifungal to apply to the glans penis in conjunction with Hydrocortisone steroid cream.

Related Post: Can Balanitis Cure Itself?

Even though hydrocortisone is frequently used to treat balanitis, it occasionally worsens symptoms, especially when applied for more than a week.

Hydrocortisone on Foreskin Side Effects

While hydrocortisone may momentarily reduce balanitis-related discomfort and inflammation of the glans, it is frequently the long-term choice for the following reasons:

  • Topical steroids are well recognized for producing opportunistic infections but can have a localized immune system-compromising effect on a skin fungal and bacterial infection.
  • Steroids can even be the cause of symptoms, lengthening the time it takes to recover from one.
  • In general, thin skin, mucous membranes, and delicate body parts shouldn’t be exposed to steroid application. In comparison to the skin on other regions of your body, the penis absorbs steroids at a rate that is tenfold higher.
  • High absorption can result in suppressed adrenal function in addition to further skin thinning, which can be excruciatingly painful in places like the penis.
  • Thinned skin on the penis brought on by topical steroid use, it will be very sensitive to any irritant or insignificant contact.
  • Due to these problems, hydrocortisone should only be taken for extremely brief periods of time, if it is acceptable for your situation.

This is not to argue that hydrocortisone is never appropriate to use. Many dermatological disorders that cause balanitis might benefit from it rather often. In fact, stronger steroids are used to treat certain balanitis causes, such as Lichen planus.

Hydrocortisone to Treat Eczema

Doctors sometimes prescribe Hydrocortisone to treat and prevent eczema flare ups. Eczema is a type of contact dermatitis but it can manifest in many forms. We have a complete guide to Eczema on the penis so be sure to read that in order to fully understand the skin condition symptoms and the other possible treatment options for Eczema:

Related Post: Eczema on Penis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

The different types of contact dermatitis include allergic contact dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and non specific dermatitis. Stop treatment is the infection gets worse or the application of the steroid creams begin causing discomfort.

Can Hydrocortisone Cream be used for a Sexually Transmitted Infection like Genital Herpes?

Hydrocortisone for use in genital herpes isn’t a common treatment. As previously mentioned, a mild steroid cream like Hydrocortisone can weaken the immune system and can’t be used for long periods of time.

It’s also possible that the cream or ointment causes and itchy rash, which makes the management of HSV even harder and ends up causing discomfort.

If your doctor prescribed Hydrocortisone for Genital Herpes flare ups, then you should follow his or her appropriate treatment guidelines. However, don’t use the steroid cream for longer than 7 days straight.

After a week, it’s advisable to wait and see if symptoms settle. Even though it’s a mild steroid cream, it’s good practice to always respect the strength and possible side effects of any prescription drug. You can also try a home remedy for an itchy penis, which we talk about in detail in one of our latest posts.


Speak to your doctor if symptoms keep returning or if treatment makes your eczema worse. Topical steroids shouldn’t be used for more than 7 consecutive days on the foreskin or penis.

The condition which initially led to the circinate balanitis like eczema or allergic contact dermatitis may still be present and causing further issues.

To properly treat an infection, you might require a different antifungal or antibiotic medication.

There’s emulsifying ointment, antibiotics and antifungals in genitourinary medicine without any hydrocortisone, and have been proved to be very effective without the risk. Consider asking your doctor about these alternatives to help with a flare up.

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