Clobetasol Propionate for Acne

Because acne is the most common skin problem in the world, countless treatments have been touted as cure-alls. From surgical procedures to poultices made from items found in your refrigerator, you are bound to have tried several approaches to combat your acne. The physiological processes involved with acne are complex and the psychological and social effects can be devastating. It can be tempting to try just about anything to calm your skin down. But before you reach for clobetasol propionate for acne treatment, there are a few things you need to know.

What is clobetasol propionate?

Clobetasol propionate (Cp) is a prescription-strength superpotent corticosteroid–commonly just called a steroid. It is most often used topically as a cream, lotion, ointment, foam or shampoo. It is available as a generic and under the brand names Temovate, Clobex and Cormax. It works by constricting blood vessels and promoting enzymes that reduce inflammation.

Doctors prescribe Cp for its anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. People with skin conditions such as plaque psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (eczema) have had good outcomes when using this drug for short treatments.

It is very effective at providing short-term relief from the symptoms of itchiness and inflammation. Unfortunately, it does not treat the underlying causes of these symptoms.

Cp is generally not prescribed as an acne therapy.

When is clobetasol propionate used for acne?

There are different forms of acne. The most common type involving pimples or cysts on the face, back, shoulders and chest is called acne vulgaris, or common acne. Cp is not prescribed to treat this type.

Another skin condition called acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN) involves inflammation of hair follicles, usually at the back of the scalp and neck. This disorder, also called folliculitis or acne fulminans, is not related to common acne.

The classic characteristics of AKN are inflamed bumps at and near the rear hairline. AKN can lead to large lesions and is sometimes treated with surgery.

A short course of Cp may be prescribed to treat the inflammation and itching associated with AKN.

What are the side effects of using clobetasol propionate for acne?

The most common side effect of this strong medication is a stinging or burning sensation where it is applied. It is not advised that you use Cp on your face or in skin folds, as it can cause the skin to become thinner and easily bruised. Other less common side effects include:

  • dry skin
  • rash
  • itching
  • redness
  • discoloration
  • scaliness


Acne is so common that many people will likely experience it at some point. Treatments range from prescription therapies to food-based home remedies.

You may be tempted to try Cp because of the psychosocial effects of severe common acne. But because of the strength of this drug, it is more appropriately used for AKN.

Acne is complex, but there is hope! Talk to your doctor so you can work together to find a regimen that works for you.