Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) image by Lars Lachmann from Fotolia.com

Topical hydrocortisone is commonly used as a steroidal medicine to relieve inflammation and other symptoms related to certain skin conditions. You might use topical hydrocortisone to treat itching, redness and swelling from dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema. Certain herbal creams might provide benefits similar to those of topical hydrocortisone, but you should consult your doctor before replacing hydrocortisone with an herbal remedy.


Chamomile topical creams might help to relieve inflammation and suppress an overactive immune response, similar to the function of topical hydrocortisone. A 1985 clinical trial in Germany found that chamomile cream was nearly as effective as 0.25-percent hydrocortisone cream, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Chamomile creams might help to relieve the burning or itching associated with dermatitis and improve healing for other inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. Talk with your doctor before you switch from hydrocortisone to chamomile cream.


Licorice cream could ease the pain and itching related to skin inflammation from dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Like chamomile, licorice has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulator actions similar to hydrocortisone cream. A 2003 double-blind study published in the Journal of Dermatology Treatments discovered that using a 1 percent or 2 percent licorice cream was effective in treating eczema, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Using a cream containing licorice and red vine leaf might also help in treating eczema, according to a double-blind study published in the European Journal of Dermatology in 2005. Little other scientific evidence has demonstrated the use of a licorice-based cream as an alternative to topical hydrocortisone, however.


Chickweed might also offer effects that are similar to topical hydrocortisone. Chickweed cream could potentially help to relieve dermatitis symptoms and promote healing, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although chickweed topical preparations have been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat eczema, no current medical research supports its use for this purpose. Therefore, you should ask your doctor about chickweed cream before using it.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel could offer anti-inflammatory and astringent effects that may help in treating many of the same conditions treated with topical hydrocortisone. Specifically, witch hazel is most effective at relieving itching and oozing sores associated with dermatitis. In fact, a 1993 double-blind clinical trial in Germany revealed that a witch hazel-based cream was equally effective as 1 percent hydrocortisone cream in treating eczema, notes the University of Michigan Health System. Don’t stop using hydrocortisone cream before first discussing the use of witch hazel with a health-care professional.


calendula image by vebook from Fotolia.com

Calendula creams could relieve inflammation and control your immune response like topical hydrocortisone. A randomized clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2004 found that topical applications of calendula cream helped to reduced the risk of severe dermatitis from radiation therapy for breast cancer, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Ask your physician about the proper application of calendula-based creams before using them.

St. John’s Wort

Creams containing St. John’s wort might also help in treating dermatitis. St. John’s wort contains a constituent called hypericin or hyperforin, which may have anti-inflammatory benefits like hydrocortisone, as well as antibacterial effects. Only one notable study has been performed on St. John’s wort cream, however. The double-blind study published in Phytomedicine in 2003 found that St. John’s wort was substantially more effective than the placebo cream in reducing eczema symptoms, says the University of Michigan Health System. Participants used a cream containing 5 percent St. John’s wort standardized to contain 1.5 percent hyperforin, applied twice daily.