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I was introduced to Canasten HC cream by my ever-helpful Doctor around 2 weeks ago and I most certainly have not looked back. I went to see him to ask about my eczema, which I had been struggling with for well over 6 months (I have a fear of doctors and managed to put it off for that long...silly me).
I was very dubious when he told me he was prescribing a 'strong steroid cream' as I had used an e45 version which hadn't worked and had also heard some nasty things about steroid creams. Now my eczema is around my eyes and around my lips, and one of the rumours was that when used near the eyes, steroid creams can cause cataracts. More on this later...
What is Canasten HC? It is a steroid cream with 1.0% Clotrimazole (an antifungal agent) and 1.0% Hydrocortisone (a hormone which reduces the immune response). This cream can be used for most common irritated skin conditions such as eczema and thrush. It is particularly useful for those conditions which are caused by a fungus or yeast as the clotrimazole kills them. In my case, the hair dye I used was damaging my skin and making it unable to kill the fungus off itself, so I needed the cream to help.
Having looked it up I can tell you it's also used for candidal balanitis, candidal vaginitis, nappy rash, athlete's foot, ringworm and jock itch. Yum.
Packaging The cream comes in a 30g tube packaged inside a small cardboard box, much like toothpaste, and with a screw top. All of the packaging is white, with the text in bold blue. I may be mistaken with this packaging, as there may be differences depending on where it's sold or manufactured.
Does it Work? For me, an eczema suffer, yes. I should point out that my eczema was quite severe when I went there; exacerbated by stress, any sort of soap used, harsh weather and I was unable to wear any makeup. Around my lips the sore skin would itch and flake horribly. Around my eyes would itch in the mornings and puff up so I felt (and looked) like I'd been crying for hours. After just one day of applying the cream (3 times daily) I saw a difference. After three days my eczema had pretty much disappeared. I am still using the cream now as there is one tiny patch below my left eye that refuses to budge. This is a mystery, but it seems to be going slowly and it isn't irritated so I'm happy.
Scent Of course, because this cream is for use on all kinds of forms of skin irritation it is fragrance free. That doesn't mean it doesn't smell, though! If you've ever used aqueous cream you'll be familiar with that medicated smell which this also has. I'd almost say it smells almondy and the smell is so delicate you'd probably have to have thrush up your nose to be able to smell it.
Texture Not much to report here other than that it's exactly like any ointment you use. Not at all grainy and gets absorbed into the skin very readily without leaving it greasy or white.
Directions This depends on how it's prescribed. I was told to use it 3 times a day but if you're using it on a less serious or irritated patch of skin then once a day is recommended with steroid creams. The patches of skin I used them on were 10p sized and under my eyes (just like the dark bags you get when tired) and about 2cm ring around my mouth. All I had to use for all of these areas was a piece the size of a pea (just as you would use for your teeth with toothpaste). I would put this on the affected areas after applying aqueous cream to my whole face in the morning and before bed, with another application at midday.
Note: External use only! If you have female thrush then you need buy oral canasten tablets for the internal itching. Also, wash it off before using condoms as the cream can damage them (although that's quite mean as you'll just transfer the infection onto your partner..try and be patient!)
How much is it? I think it's only available on prescription, so extortionate (bring on moving to Wales for the free prescription service!)
Are there any side effects? There weren't any for me, although as I mentioned earlier prolonged use around the eyes can cause cataracts. Steroid creams are not designed for long-term use, just until the infection or inflammation clears up. In fact, unless advised by your GP (as I was) you should stop use after 7 days. Anyway, side effects can include thinning of the skin (which is why I was glad mine cleared up so quickly underneath my eyes...I don't want to get wrinkles early), strecth marks, acne, visible fine blood vessels under the skin, decreased pigmentation and increased hair growth.
Summary Overall Canasten HC cream gets a big thumbs up. Little to no scent, works very well, 30g last for AGES, non-greasy. My only qualm is the thinning of the skin, but I'd rather have that than itchy, inflamed and bright red skin around my eyes all the time. I'd even go as far as to say it's given me some self-confidence back...I can go out in public without worrying people are thinking I've been crying!
Pictures of Canesten Cream
Not sure if you can see it too well but the red patches under my eyes and around my bottom lip are now almost completely gone; hooray!