Dermatological conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, may lead a physician to prescribe a treatment of hydrocortisone in order to minimize the inflammation to the immune system these conditions can cause.

Hydrocortisone is a synthetic form of a naturally occurring hormone, cortisol, that is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. The human body has two adrenal glands, each one located atop a kidney.

Conditions caused or exacerbated by stress or inflammation usually subside when hydrocortisone treatment is given. Chronic allergic conditions, such as rheumatic arthritis and atopic dermatitis, are usually relieved, too.

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is released during times of stress in an effort to restore our body functions (blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates, etc.) to normal once the stressful episode is passed.

During periods of chronic stress, such as prolonged inflammation or allergic reaction), extra cortisol may be needed to maintain homeostasis. It’s in these events that hydrocortisone may be prescribed.

The amount of cortisol in circulation in the bloodstream varies over the course of the day. Levels are highest early in the morning and lowest after several hours of sleep. Since the body’s natural production of cortisol fluctuates this way, therapeutic doses of hydrocortisone may be scheduled accordingly for optimum benefit.

When long-term hydrocortisone therapy is undertaken, careful attention must be paid to the demands of a typical lifestyle. Stress-inducing events such as travel, illness, and holidays may alter the effect of the dosage routinely taken and adjustments may be in order.

Adjustments to hydrocortisone dosage may also be called for when facing surgery or during and after illness, injury, or similar traumatic experiences.

Hydrocortisone is most often given as an oral medication or intravenous injection. Creams and ointments featuring hydrocortisone in low concentrations are available without prescription but stronger concentrations require prescriptions.

When prednisolone, another common steroid treatment, cannot be tolerated, hydrocortisone is often substituted for either its anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive actions.

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