Escin, as an internally applied anti-inflammatory agent, has been widely used in the treatment of inflammation and edema resulting from trauma or operation in the clinic. However, the effect of its external use on cutaneous inflammation and edema remains unexplored. In the present study, the anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous effects of external use of escin were studied in carrageenan-induced paw edema and histamine-induced capillary permeability in rats, paraxylene-induced ear swelling in mice, and cotton pellet-induced granuloma in rats. Effects of external use of escin gel on prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) were determined by ELISA. The anti-inflammatory mechanism was explored by detecting the expression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) with Western blotting and Real-time PCR analyses, with further exploration of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (P38MAPK) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) expressions. We demonstrated that external use of escin showed significant anti-inflammatory effects on acute and chronic inflammation in different animal models and its anti-inflammatory effects might be related to down-regulation of PGE2, TNF-α, and IL-1β. The results also showed that escin exerted its anti-inflammatory effects by promoting the expression of GR, with the possible mechanism being inhibition of the expressions of GR-related signaling molecules such as NF-κB and AP-1.