Prednisone Side Effects And Warnings

Learn Facts and Information About Prednisone, Both Side Effects and Benefits

Moon Face Caused by Prednisone

Moon Face Caused by Prednisone

Prednisone is a corticosteroid used to reduce inflammation and treat allergies. This medicine has many side effects including moon face and buffalo hump. Most people who use corticosteroids long-term develop Cushing's syndrome or just the moon face appearance, but few patients know how to deal with it. Moon face or moon facies can be related to obesity in addition to Cushing disease. It occurs during Prednisone therapy due to water retention, while buffalo hump is caused by fat redistribution.

Moon face, caused by steroids, is typified by a round puffy face; sometimes the face is so full that the ears cannot be seen anymore. Most doctors refer to moon face as a Cushingoid appearance, because it is related to Cushing's syndrome. This syndrome is caused by high levels of cortisol, a hormone excreted by the adrenal glands. While fat build-up on the legs, arms and belly is usually a sign of obesity, fat accumulated just in the back of the neck or trunk is a sign of Cushing's disease. A high percent of the accumulated extra fat is caused by increased appetite, which is one of the most common side effects of Prednisone therapy. In order to confirm the diagnosis, blood and urine tests, or special tests such as CT scan or MRI should be undertaken. Moon face may be avoided during steroid treatment is by using injected or inhaled forms of the drug, because these side effects are more common when using oral steroids[1].

Buffalo hump is a disorder related to excessive secretion of cortisol hormones, and high dose or long-term therapy with Prednisone or other steroids[2]. This over secretion leads to fat redistribution, so fat which normally equally distributed in all body areas starts to accumulate at the back of the neck. These dorsal fat pads are not painful, but they can look odd. Other buffalo hump symptoms include face swelling, lumps of fat, high blood pressure, bulging belly, breast and chest enlargement, movement restriction and high blood sugar level. A serious problem when it comes to buffalo hump is scoliosis, which is a spinal disorder characterized by an abnormal S-shaped curvature of the backbone. Scoliosis often comes along with muscle disorders like muscle weakness[3].

Both buffalo hump and moon face are caused by hormonal imbalances. Aside from corticosteroids, hormones released by the pituitary glands may cause these diseases, so call your doctor if you suspect your endocrine glands have any dysfunction or tumors. Buffalo hump can be diagnosed by physical examination of the fat pad or by cortisol level test, CT or MRI head scans or MRI examinations of adrenal and pituitary glands[4]. This disease can be treated by surgery or hormonal therapy. Buffalo hump removal through surgical methods, includes the option of laser surgery for more precision and less pain. Home exercise can also help to reduce the hump, in particular exercises that straighten the neck and upper back. Weights can be used in order to lose weight and strengthen muscles at the same time.


  1. Crivineanu M., Nicorescu V., Ed. Printech, Basis of Pharmacology, 2016
  2. Abdula T., Rao S.A., Mengistu A., Worku S., Legesse E., Aberra M., Pharmacology - Lecture Notes for Health Science Students, 2004
  3. Wilkins L., Nurse's five minute clinical consult: signs and symptoms, 2008
  4. 4 Crivineanu M., Nicorescu V., Ed. Printech, Basis of Pharmacology, 2016

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