What is Elidel® (pimecrolimus)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Reviewed February 2022 | Last updated: February 2022

Elidel® is a prescription topical medication used to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in adults and children over the age of 2. Elidel should only be used for short-term and non-continuous use in individuals who do not have compromised immune systems and who have already tried other topical treatments for their atopic dermatitis or those who cannot use other treatments.2

What are the ingredients in Elidel?

The active ingredient in Elidel is pimecrolimus (1%).2

How does Elidel work?

Topical calcineurin inhibitors like Elidel block calcineurin, a naturally produced chemical that activates T-cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell involved in the immune system response. In atopic dermatitis, there is a dysfunction in the immune system causing excessive inflammation in the skin.

Topical calcineurin inhibitors block cytokines (chemical messengers) that trigger the inflammatory response. Once absorbed into the skin, topical calcineurin inhibitors reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis like redness and itchiness.1,2

Topical calcineurin inhibitors are medications that are applied to the skin that are used in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Topical calcineurin inhibitors are usually prescribed as second-line treatment, which means they are used after primary treatment with other topical medications, like corticosteroids, have already been tried and have not sufficiently improved symptoms of atopic dermatitis.1

What are the possible side effects of Elidel?

The most common side effects experienced by people using Elidel include:

Although no causal relationship has been established, the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a black box warning that rare cases of cancer (skin cancer and lymphoma) have been reported in patients using topical calcineurin inhibitors including Elidel.2,3

These are not all the possible side effects of Elidel. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with Elidel.

Things to know about Elidel

Topical calcineurin inhibitors like Elidel can be used on any area of the skin, and they are particularly useful in sensitive skin areas, such as the face and skin folds, which may be more susceptible to side effects from topical corticosteroids.1

Who can and can not use the drug?

Elidel should not be used by individuals with a history of hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to pimecrolimus or any components of the cream.2 People with compromised immune systems, including patients taking systemic immunosuppressive medications, should not use Elidel.2

It is not known whether Elidel is safe to use during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of using Elidel.2

Sun exposure

While using Elidel, patients should avoid natural or artificial sunlight exposure, even when the medication is not on the skin.2 Elidel should not be used on skin with malignant or pre-malignant conditions or in patients with a skin barrier defect, such as Netherton’s syndrome.2

For additional information on Elidel, read the full prescribing information.

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