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Back to Corticosteroids

Name: Triamcinolone

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Pregnancy Category C

Drug classes

  • Corticosteroid (intermediate acting)
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Hormonal agent

Therapeutic actions

Enters target cells and binds to cytoplasmic receptors, thereby initiating many complex reactions that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects.


  • Hypercalcemia associated with cancer (systemic)
  • Short-term management of various inflammatory and allergic disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, collagen diseases (eg, SLE), dermatologic diseases (eg, pemphigus), status asthmaticus, and autoimmune disorders
  • Hematologic disorders: thrombocytopenia purpura, erythroblastopenia
  • Ulcerative colitis, acute exacerbations of mutiple sclerosis, and palliation in some leukemias and lymphomas
  • Trichinosis with neurologic or myocardial involvement
  • Pulmonary emphysema with bronchial spasm or edema; diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis; with diuretics in CHF with refractory edema and in cirrhosis with refractory ascites
    Postoperative dental inflammatory reactions
  • Arthritis, psoriatic plaques, and so forth (intra-articular, soft-tissue administration)
  • Control of bronchial asthma requiring corticosteroids in conjunction with other therapy (respiratory inhalant)
  • To relieve inflammatory and pruritic manifestations of dermatoses that are steroid responsive (dermatologic preparations)


Contraindicated in the presence of infections, especially tuberculosis, fungal infectons, amebiasis, vaccinia and varicella, and antibiotic-resistant infections; lactation; allergy to tartrazine in 8-mg oral tablets marketed under the brand name Kenacort.

Use caution in the presence of pregnancy (teratogenic in preclinical studies); kidney or liver disease, hypothyroidism, ulcerative colitis with impending perforation, diverticulitis, active or latent peptic ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, CHF, hypertension, thromboembolic disorders, osteoporosis, convulsive disorders, diabetes mellitus.

Adverse effects

Effects depend on dose, route, and duration of therapy.

  • CNS: Vertigo, headache, paresthesias, insomnia, convulsions, psychosis, cataracts, increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma (long-term therapy)
  • GI: Peptic or esophageal ulcer, pancreatitis, abdominal distention, nausea, vomiting, increased appetite, weight gain (long-term therapy)
  • CV: Hypotension, shock, hypertension and CHF secondary to fluid retention, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, fat embolism, cardiac arrhythmias
  • MS: Muscle weakness, steroid myopathy, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, spontaneous fractures (long-term therapy)
  • Hypersensitivity: Hypersensitivity or anaphylactoid reactions
  • Endocrine: Amenorrhea, irregular menses, growth retardation, decreased carbohydrate tolerance, diabetes mellitus, cushingoid state (long-term effect), increased blood sugar, increased serum cholesterol, decreased T3 and T4 levels, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)
    suppression with systemic therapy longer than 5 d
  • Electrolyte imbalance: Na+ and fluid retention, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia
  • Other: Immunosuppression, aggravation, or masking of infections; impaired wound healing; thin, fragile skin; petechiae, ecchymoses, purpura, striae; subcutaneous fat atrophy Intra-articular
  • Local: Osteonecrosis, tendon, rupture, infection

Intralesional (face and head)

  • Local: Blindness (rare)

Respiratory Inhalants

  • Local: Oral, laryngeal, and pharyngeal irritation; fungal infections

Topical Dermatologic Ointments, Creams, Sprays

  • Local: Local burning, irritation, acneiform lesions, striae, skin atrophy
  • Systemic absorption of dermatologic preparations can lead to HPA suppression (see above), growth retardation in children, and other systemic adverse effects. Children may be at special risk of systemic absorption because of their larger skin surface to body weight ratio.

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