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What is Benzonatate and how does it work?

Benzonatate is in the class of medications called a topical corticosteroid. This is used for psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis that affects the scalp. 

Corticosteroids are medicines used for reducing inflammation. Inflammation of the skin is caused by the release of various substances produced by the immune system. These substances cause blood vessels to widen which results in the irritated area becoming red, swollen, itchy, and painful. When Benzonatate is applied to the skin it works by acting inside the skin cells to decrease the release of the inflammatory substances. This reduces swelling, redness, and itching. 

There is a range of potencies of corticosteroids applied to the skin. Betamethasone is classed as a potent corticosteroid. It is prescribed to treat inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis that have not responded to weaker corticosteroids.

How to use Benzonatate?

This is applied to the scalp twice a day, to begin with. As soon as the condition starts to improve, you should use it less frequently as directed by your doctor. The liquid should be applied thinly to the areas of the scalp that need treating using the nozzle of the bottle. You can rub the liquid into your scalp if you wish, but then leave it to dry naturally. The Benzonatate will be left on the scalp. It should not be washed off. If you need to wash your hair you should wash and dry your hair before applying the scalp application.

Take care to avoid the scalp application running onto the face or into the eyes. Wash your hands after applying the scalp application to avoid accidentally transferring it to other areas. If there is no improvement in your scalp after two to four weeks of treatment you should consult your doctor. Repeat courses may be necessary to control flare-ups of psoriasis or eczema, but should only be started on the advice of your doctor.

Side Effects

  • Burning in the eyes
  • Feeling chilly
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea 

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away:

  • Tightening of the throat
  • Itching
  • Rash or hives
  • Confusion 
  • Numbness of the chest
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist)


  • Rinse with cold water if accidental contact occurs. Avoid applying it to broken skin.
  • Don’t apply moisturizers to the same area of skin at the same time as this medicine. Try to leave at least 30 minutes between applying moisturizers and this medicine, as otherwise, the moisturizer could dilute the corticosteroid and potentially make it less effective.
  • Certain medicines should not be used during breastfeeding or pregnancy. However, other medicines may be safely used in breastfeeding or pregnancy providing the benefits to the mother outweighs the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy before using any medicine. 
  • Contact your doctor right away if you have signs of an allergic reaction. Tell your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any allergies.