PDE4 Inhibitors to Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2023 | Last updated: October 2023

Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitors are a newer class of drug approved to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema). PDE4 inhibitors are topical drugs that are designed to treat mild to moderate eczema in adults and children 3 months of age and older.1,2

How do PDE4 inhibitors work?

PDE4 is an enzyme that plays a key role in inflammation. People with eczema may make too much PDE4, leading to chronic inflammation that causes eczema symptoms like itchiness, dry or cracked skin, and swollen skin. PDE4 inhibitors work by blocking PDE4, which in turn helps reduce the symptoms of eczema.1,2


As of 2023, Eucrisa® (crisaborole) is the only PDE4 inhibitor approved to treat eczema. Eucrisa is available as an ointment.1,2

Researchers are studying several other PDE4 inhibitors for eczema in clinical trials.2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effect of Eucrisa is pain at the application site, such as burning or stinging.1

These are not all the possible side effects of Eucrisa. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when using Eucrisa. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when using Eucrisa.

Other things to know

There is not enough data to know if Eucrisa is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Before starting treatment with Eucrisa, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. They can help you decide if Eucrisa is right for you.1

Wash your hands after applying Eucrisa, unless you are using it to treat skin on your hands.1

Before beginning treatment for eczema, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Eucrisa.

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