Desowen (Galderma)
0.05% cream, lotion and ointment
Approved indication: dermatoses
Australian Medicines Handbook Section 8.1.2

Desonide is a topical non-fluorinated steroid which has been available overseas for many years. It has a similar structure to triamcinolone (see `The role of corticosteroids in dermatology').

Patients apply desonide two or three times a day. Systemic absorption occurs, so continuous treatment is limited to a maximum of eight weeks.

Desonide has been compared with hydrocortisone 1% in the treatment of children with atopic eczema. Although it is more potent than hydrocortisone and had greater efficacy, desonide had a similar safety profile.1 Topical treatment for four weeks does not significantly affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalaxis.2 Desonide should not be used on children younger than two years.

The adverse effects of desonide resemble those of other topical steroids. These are more likely to occur if occlusive dressings are used. Patients may complain of burning, itching, irritation or dryness of the skin.


  1. Jorizzo J, Levy M, Lucky A, Shavin J, Goldberg G, Dunlap F, et al. Multi center trial for long-term safety and efficacy comparison of 0.05% desonide and 1% hydrocortisone ointments in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in pediatric patients. J Am Acad Dermatol 1995;33:74-7.
  2. Lucky AW, Grote GD, Williams JL, Tuley MR, Czernielewski JM, Dolak TM, et al. Effect of desonide ointment, 0.05%, on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalaxis of children with atopic dermatitis. Cutis 1997;59:151-3.

Some of the views expressed in the following notes on newly approved products should be regarded as preliminary, as there may have been limited published data at the time of publication, and little experience in Australia of their safety or efficacy. However, the Editorial Executive Committee believes that comments made in good faith at an early stage may still be of value. Before new drugs are prescribed, the Committee believes it is important that more detailed information is obtained from the manufacturer's approved product information, a drug information centre or some other appropriate source.