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pimecrolimus (Elidel) Uses, Side Effects & Dosage

What is pimecrolimus, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Pimecrolimus is a chemical that is used to
treat atopic dermatitis (eczema). Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition
characterized by redness, itching, scaling, and inflammation of the skin. The
cause of atopic dermatitis is not known; however, scientists believe that it may
be due to activation of the immune system by various environmental or emotional
triggers. Scientists do not know exactly how pimecrolimus reduces the
manifestations of atopic dermatitis, but pimecrolimus reduces the action of
T-cells and mast cells which are part of the immune system and contribute to
responses of the immune system. Pimecrolimus prevents the activation of T-cells
by blocking the effects of chemicals (cytokines) released by the body that
stimulate T-cells. Pimecrolimus also reduces the ability of mast cells to
release chemicals that promote inflammation. Pimecrolimus was approved by the
FDA in December 2001.

What brand names are available for pimecrolimus?


Is pimecrolimus available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for pimecrolimus?


What are the side effects of pimecrolimus?

The most common side effects of pimecrolimus are:

  • reactions at the site of application,
  • burning,
  • itching, and
  • redness.

Other important side effects include:

Skin cancer and
lymphoma have rarely occurred during treatment with pimecrolimus. Therefore,
pimecrolimus should not be used for long-term treatment and should only be
applied to affected areas.

What is the dosage for pimecrolimus?

Patients should completely rub in a thin layer of pimecrolimus
to the affected areas twice daily. An improvement in symptoms can be seen within
8-15 days, and patients should contact their physician if there is no response
after six weeks of use.

Which drugs or supplements interact with pimecrolimus?

Interactions between pimecrolimus and other drugs
have not been studied. Since very little pimecrolimus is absorbed from the skin,
drug interactions are not expected. However, since some pimecrolimus is
absorbed, caution should be exercised when pimecrolimus is used by individuals
also taking drugs (for exmaple,
[Nizoral, Extina, Xolegel, Kuric],
[Sporanox], erythromycin,
[Diflucan], calcium channel blockers
[CCBs], cimetidine
[Tagamet]) that inhibit the liver
enzymes that eliminate pimecrolimus and could increase the levels of
pimecrolimus and promote its toxicity.

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Is pimecrolimus safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies that evaluate the use of
pimecrolimus during pregnancy.

Use of pimecrolimus by nursing mothers has not been
evaluated, and it is not known if pimecrolimus is excreted in
breast milk.
Nursing mothers should decide whether to stop nursing or use alternative

What else should I know about pimecrolimus?

What preparations of pimecrolimus are available?

Cream, 1%

How should I keep pimecrolimus stored?

Pimecrolimus should be stored at room temperature, 15 C – 30 C (59 F – 86 F).


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