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Dexamethasone (Corticosteroid)

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Jul 25, 2022

Dexamethasone (Corticosteroid)

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid hormone (glucocorticoid). It decreases your body’s natural defensive response and reduces symptoms such as swelling and allergic-type reactions.


Know the basics

What is dexamethasone used for?

How should I take dexamethasone?

Read the directions on the packaging for complete information. Check the label and expiration date.

For oral dosage forms, swallow it whole without chewing, crushing, or dissolving it in liquid. It is best taken with meals.

Topical dosage forms should be applied to their intended areas (e.g. eye drops for eyes).

Parenteral dosage forms should be administered by a licensed healthcare professional only.

How do I store dexamethasone?

This product is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store it in the bathroom or the freezer. 

There may be different brands of this drug that may have different storage needs. So, it is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Additionally, it is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using dexamethasone?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if you are/have:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Taking any other medicines. This includes any prescription, OTC, and herbal remedies.
  • An allergy to any of the ingredients of this product.
  • Any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Is it safe to take dexamethasone during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information about the safety of using this drug during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In some cases, it may be given to mothers with premature babies to speed up lung maturation. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking any medication.

This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of dexamethasone?

Like all drugs, this product may have side effects. If they occur, side effects are generally mild and resolve once treatment is finished or the dose is lowered. Some reported side effects include:

  • Adrenal suppression
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Myopathy
  • Perineal irritation
  • Psychiatric disturbances
  • Immunosuppression
  • Open-angle glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Anaphylactoid reactions *rare
  • Weight gain
  • Stunted growth
  • Slow wound healing
  • Burning sensation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin thinning

However, not everyone experiences these side effects. In addition, some people may experience other side effects. So, if you have any concerns about a side effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with dexamethasone?

This medication may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. 

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. 

Drugs with known interactions:

  • Live vaccines
  • Barbiturates
  • Carbamazepine
  • Ephedrine
  • Phenytoin
  • Rifampicin
  • Erythromycin
  • Azole antifungals
  • Diuretics
  • Amphotericin B injections
  • Other steroids
  • Warfarin

If you experience an adverse drug interaction, inform your doctor immediately to reevaluate your treatment plan. Approaches include dose adjustment, drug substitution, or ending therapy.

Does food or alcohol interact with dexamethasone?

This drug may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with dexamethasone?

This drug may interact with underlying conditions. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. Therefore, it is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Cataracts
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Eye infection
  • Fluid retention
  • Glaucoma
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Active infection
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Stomach or intestinal problems (e.g. diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis)
  • Tuberculosis, (latent)
  • Fungal infections
  • Herpes simplex eye infection

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication.

What is the dose for an adult?

The usual range via oral, IV or IM routes is 4 to 20 mg per day, as a single dose or in 2 to 4 divided doses. For high-dose preparations, 0.4 to 0.8 mg per kg of body weight should be given per day, up to 40 mg per day.

What is the dose for a child?

Oral, IM, IV: Initial dose range: 0.02 to 0.3 mg/kg/day or 0.6 to 9 mg/m2/day in divided doses every 6 to 12 hours. The dose depends upon the condition being treated and response of patient. Dosage for infants and children should be based on disease severity and patient response.

How is dexamethasone available?

Dexamethasone is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Tablet: 500 mcg, 750 mcg, 3 mg
  • Solution for injection: 4 mg/mL, 5 mg/mL
  • Eye drops: 0.5 mg/mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of dexamethasone, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

In addition, never stop taking or reduce the dose of dexamethasone abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms may occur as a consequence of adrenal insufficiency. End of therapy dosing requires tapering before eventual stop of the drug.



Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Jul 25, 2022

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