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Cortisone vs. Hydrocortisone: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 17, 2024
Cortisone is a naturally occurring steroid with anti-inflammatory effects, while hydrocortisone is a synthetic corticosteroid used in stronger medicinal formulations.

Key Differences

Cortisone is a steroid hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Hydrocortisone, also known as cortisol, is a synthetic version of this hormone, often used in medicinal formulations due to its potent anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing properties.
In the body, cortisone is involved in regulating metabolism and immune response. Hydrocortisone, as a medication, is used to treat conditions like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, and allergic reactions, due to its more potent effects compared to naturally occurring cortisone.
Cortisone, in its natural form, plays a role in the body's stress response, affecting blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Hydrocortisone, when used pharmacologically, can provide relief from itching, redness, and swelling associated with various skin conditions and allergic reactions.
Both cortisone and hydrocortisone can be administered in different forms, such as oral tablets, topical creams, or injections. However, hydrocortisone is typically preferred in clinical settings due to its enhanced effectiveness in treating inflammatory and allergic conditions.
Cortisone is important for maintaining health and well-being, prolonged use of hydrocortisone as a medication can lead to side effects such as skin thinning, increased susceptibility to infection, and hormonal imbalances.

Comparison Chart


Naturally occurring hormone
Synthetic corticosteroid

Primary Use

Regulates metabolism, immune response
Treats inflammation, allergies, skin conditions


Less potent compared to hydrocortisone
More potent, effective in medicinal formulations

Administration Forms

Natural production, supplements
Oral, topical, injectable forms

Side Effects

Minimal when produced naturally
Skin thinning, infection risk, hormonal changes

Cortisone and Hydrocortisone Definitions


Cortisone can be administered as a medication in various forms.
He received a cortisone shot to alleviate his back pain.


Hydrocortisone is a synthetic corticosteroid used in medicine.
Hydrocortisone cream is commonly prescribed for eczema.


Cortisone plays a key role in the body's response to stress.
Elevated cortisone levels can affect blood sugar and blood pressure.


Hydrocortisone is available in oral, topical, and injectable forms.
For her rash, the doctor recommended topical hydrocortisone.


Cortisone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
The doctor explained how stress triggers cortisone production in the body.


Hydrocortisone treats inflammation, allergies, and skin conditions.
She used hydrocortisone to relieve her allergic skin reaction.


In medicine, cortisone is used to treat inflammation and allergic reactions.
Cortisone injections can effectively reduce joint inflammation.


Hydrocortisone mimics the effects of naturally occurring cortisol.
The hydrocortisone medication helped control his body's inflammatory response.


Cortisone is involved in regulating the immune system and metabolism.
The patient's cortisone levels were checked to assess adrenal function.


It's more potent than natural cortisone, making it effective in treatment.
Hydrocortisone injections are used for severe inflammatory conditions.


A naturally occurring corticosteroid, C21H28O5, that is converted in the body to cortisol. It is used in synthetic form as a drug, especially to treat adrenal insufficiency, certain allergies, and inflammation, as from rheumatoid arthritis.


The steroid hormone cortisol.


A corticosteroid hormone, closely related to corticosterone, produced by the adrenal cortex. One of the glucocorticoids, it is also made synthetically for use as an anti-inflammatory and antiallergy agent. 17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone, with formula C21H28O5.


A preparation of this hormone obtained from natural sources or produced synthetically and used to treat inflammatory and allergic conditions and adrenal failure.


A corticosteroid hormone (C21H28O5) produced by the adrenal cortex. It is used in medicine as an antiinflammatory agent.


A glucocorticoid steroid hormone C21H30O5 produced by the adrenal cortex upon stimulation by ACTH that mediates various metabolic processes (such as gluconeogenesis), has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, and whose levels in the blood may become elevated in response to physical or psychological stress. It is used medicinally to treat inflammation resulting from eczema and rheumatism.


A corticosteroid hormone (trade name Cortone Acetate) normally produced by the adrenal cortex; is converted to hydrocortisone


An adrenal-cortex hormone (trade names Hydrocortone or Cortef) that is active in carbohydrate and protein metabolism


What is cortisone?

A natural steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, regulating metabolism and immune response.

Is cortisone used as a medication?

Yes, cortisone is used in medicine, primarily for inflammation and allergic reactions.

What conditions does hydrocortisone treat?

Hydrocortisone treats conditions like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, and allergies.

What is hydrocortisone?

A synthetic corticosteroid used to treat inflammation, allergies, and skin conditions.

What forms does hydrocortisone come in?

Hydrocortisone is available in oral, topical, and injectable forms.

Is hydrocortisone stronger than natural cortisone?

Yes, hydrocortisone is more potent and effective in medical treatments.

Can prolonged use of hydrocortisone be harmful?

Prolonged use can lead to adverse effects like hormonal changes and increased infection risk.

How does cortisone work in the body?

Cortisone helps manage stress response, affecting blood sugar and blood pressure.

What are common side effects of hydrocortisone?

Side effects include skin thinning, increased infection risk, and hormonal imbalances.

Can hydrocortisone treat severe allergies?

Yes, it is effective in treating severe allergic reactions.

Can cortisone be used for joint pain?

Yes, cortisone injections are often used to reduce joint inflammation.

Is cortisone a type of steroid?

Yes, cortisone is a type of steroid hormone.

Can both cortisone and hydrocortisone be used for arthritis?

Yes, both are used to treat arthritis, with hydrocortisone being more potent.

Can cortisone affect blood sugar levels?

Yes, cortisone can impact blood sugar and blood pressure.

Are there side effects to using cortisone as a medication?

Yes, cortisone can cause side effects like joint pain or skin thinning.

How does hydrocortisone cream help skin conditions?

It reduces inflammation and alleviates symptoms like itching and redness.

Does stress increase cortisone production?

Yes, stress triggers increased cortisone production in the body.

Is natural cortisone important for health?

Yes, natural cortisone is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.

How quickly does hydrocortisone work?

Hydrocortisone usually shows effects soon after application or administration.

Are cortisone supplements available?

Yes, cortisone supplements are available but should be used under medical guidance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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