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How To Use Triamcinolone for Eczema

Medically reviewed by Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI
Written by Jessica Wolpert
Posted on September 5, 2023

Triamcinolone acetonide is one of the many anti-inflammatory topical corticosteroids that can be used to treat the itching, discoloration, and swelling associated with eczema. While some people with eczema have been using it for years, others who are just getting started with the medication may wonder how to use it effectively.

Read on to discover a few key strategies that can help you make the most out of this eczema treatment.

What Is Triamcinolone?

Triamcinolone is a topical steroid — that is, applied to the skin — that may help suppress the abnormal immune system responses that cause inflammation. While topical triamcinolone is used to treat inflammatory conditions including allergic reactions and rash, it’s especially well known as a treatment for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Triamcinolone acetonide is available under brand names including Kenalog and Triderm.

Applying Triamcinolone Acetonide for Eczema

Triamcinolone acetonide is usually prescribed as an ointment, a cream, or a lotion when it’s used to treat eczema. It’s also available as an aerosol spray.

If you’re prescribed a triamcinolone acetonide cream, ointment, or lotion for your eczema, apply a thin film over the affected area. Don’t put a bandage over it unless directed to do so by your health care provider.

If you’re prescribed an aerosol spray, apply a thin layer and keep the nozzle 3 to 6 inches from your skin, covering your eyes if you’re spraying an area near your face. Just like with any other aerosol spray, keep it away from heat, open flames, and flame risks, such as lit cigarettes. Until it dries completely on your skin, the aerosol spray will be flammable.

If you’re using triamcinolone lotion or spray for eczema on your scalp, part your hair over the affected area to ensure that the corticosteroid reaches your skin and doesn’t just settle into your hair. You can still wash your hair, but let the lotion or spray dry and absorb first.

Apply triamcinolone as often as prescribed by your health care provider, which usually ranges from once per day to four times per day. Whatever form of triamcinolone you use, let the medication dry or absorb into your skin before washing the area, and avoid using it on your groin, genitals, underarms, or face unless directed by your dermatology professional. You should also avoid using the drug on infected skin or open wounds.

Keep your triamcinolone somewhere dry at room temperature. Heat and moisture can degrade corticosteroids, so keep them out of the bathroom, and never store triamcinolone in the fridge or freezer.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Potency for Eczema

Corticosteroids for eczema are available in different levels of strength, or potency. Potency depends on the molecule types and how well the skin absorbs the corticosteroid molecules, but remember that the percentage level of active ingredient in a particular corticosteroid doesn’t necessarily reflect its potency. One corticosteroid may have a high potency with a 0.1 percent formulation, while another may have a low potency at the same percentage.

Lower-potency corticosteroids are best for delicate skin and larger areas of skin, as well as for children. Higher-potency steroids are preferred for thicker skin, like the bottoms of the feet or the palms. They’re more efficient at reducing inflammation. However, they can also thin the skin with repeated use and are more likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Triamcinolone acetonide is available at different potency levels. Lower-potency triamcinolone acetonide is available in cream and lotion forms, while higher-potency triamcinolone is available in ointments, creams, and sprays.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Precautions

Triamcinolone may not be appropriate for people who have diabetes or Cushing’s syndrome (a condition where your body makes too much of the hormone cortisol). It can also interfere with insulin and cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, prolonged triamcinolone use may not be for you. The medication may also not be recommended during breastfeeding.

In addition, always tell your dermatologist or other health care professional about any other medications you’re taking, including vitamins or supplements.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Side Effects for Eczema

Corticosteroids can cause skin problems, including:

  • Skin irritation
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Dryness
  • Discoloration

Triamcinolone can also cause acne or small discolored bumps on the skin. If used on the face, it can also cause a rash around the mouth. If you experience any of these adverse effects and they don’t go away, call your health care professional.

You should also reach out to your dermatologist for medical advice if you see serious side effects, like a severe rash, or if you see signs of skin infection (such as swelling or discoloration) where you’ve applied triamcinolone acetonide.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyEczemaTeam — the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones — more than 48,500 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.


Are you living with eczema? Have you tried triamcinolone? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on September 5, 2023
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Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI is an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more about him here.
Jessica Wolpert earned a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia and an MA in Literature and Medicine from King's College. Learn more about her here.

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