Hydrocortisone vs Antihistamines

Which is better, hydrocortisone or antihistamines?


Different medications can be used to treat the same condition. It can be very confusing for non-medical professionals to know which medication is the right one for you. Hydrocortisone and antihistamines are common medications with a variety of uses for different conditions. Let’s break down these two medications and help you get a better understanding of their uses. 



Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid or steroid, which belongs to a group of drugs called glucocorticoids. It has strong anti-inflammatory effects and can be used for conditions affecting the immune system. This can include conditions such as arthritis, colitis (ulcerative colitis and Crohns), asthma, bronchitis, and some skin rashes like eczema and hives. Most corticosteroids, will need prescriptions from a doctor, but the mild ones, like hydrocortisone, can be bought over-the-counter in pharmacies. 

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Antihistamines are medications that work by blocking the effects of histamines, chemicals responsible for allergic symptoms. These include congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy throat, hives, skin rashes, itching or watery eyes. Allergies include hay fever, hives, conjunctivitis and reactions to insect bites or stings. Antihistamines also can be used to provide relief in other conditions like motion sickness, insomnia and anxiety. It is important to note some antihistamines can cause drowsiness so this should not be taken before driving or operating heavy machinery. If you need to be alert when taking this medication make sure to let the doctor know as they can prescribe you a non-drowsy antihistamine. 



There is a wide range of medications belonging to corticosteroids and antihistamines. 


  1. Hydrocortisone
  2. Prednisolone
  3. Triamcinolone
  4. Desonide
  5. Dexamethasone 


  1. Loratadine
  2. Fexofenadine
  3. Cetirizine
  4. Chlorpheniramine


What are the differences between the two?

  • Corticosteroids have more anti-inflammatory effects than antihistamines
  • Antihistamines and corticosteroids have different side effects
  • Antihistamines can cause dry mouth, drowsiness, decreased production of tears, problems with urination, changes to the vision, constipation and agitation 
  • Corticosteroids can cause retention of fluid, hypertension, headaches, muscle weakness, puffy face, growth of facial hair, thinning of the skin and much more



Eczema is a common condition in which corticosteroids and antihistamines are used. Eczema, or medically known as atopic dermatitis, usually causes dry, itchy and cracked/sore skin. Eczema is a chronic long term condition which affecting individuals in their childhood, presenting before the age of 1. It can sometimes develop during adulthood. There is no known cause behind eczema but it has been linked to developing alongside asthma and hay fever. It can run in families and often occurs in people who get allergies. 

Eczema has a common presentation pattern. Eczema commonly presents on the hands, insides of the elbows (flexors), back of knees (flexors) and the face and scalp in children. Though, on some, eczema can present on any part of the body. Eczema can be manageable at most times, but people can suffer flare-up periods where their symptoms become more exaggerated. Some individuals might have triggers that can cause eczema flare-ups such as soaps, detergents, stress and weather. 


Hydrocortisone and eczema

Hydrocortisone is used to reduce the redness of the eczema patches. It reduces the inflammation of the skin and helps tighten the blood vessels near the top of the skin, reducing redness.  


Antihistamines and eczema

Antihistamines are used to treat the itchy symptoms of eczema. Some people might struggle with the severe itchiness that comes from eczema and antihistamines can be prescribed to help get the itching under control. Antihistamines will not help get an eczema flare-up under control but will help soothe the itching.

Medzino offers a wide range of eczema and allergy relief medications. Check out the different medications we offer here. To get a prescription for these medications, simply fill out an online consultation form and one of your doctors will review it and make sure the medication is suitable for your symptoms. Our pharmacy will then dispatch the medication once they get approval and send it straight to your door in plain discrete packaging. 



  1. NHS Choices. Antihistamines. [Online] NHS. Available from:
  2. NHS Choices. Steroids. [Online] NHS. Available from:
  3. NHS Choices. Overview - Atopic eczema. [Online] NHS. Available from:
  4. Mayo Clinic. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) - Symptoms and causes. [Online] Mayo Clinic. Available from:

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