Pimecrolimus | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

pimecrolimus, Topical cream

All Brands

  • Elidel
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for pimecrolimus

Topical cream
1

Pimecrolimus is used to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. This skin condition is also called eczema, and is common in children. Pimecrolimus is used when other topical medications have not worked.

2

Pimecrolimus is available as the brand-name drug Elidel. It’s not available as a generic medication.

3

Pimecrolimus comes in the form of a cream. It shouldn’t be used for long periods of time (over 6 weeks).

4

Pimecrolimus raises your risk of skin infection.

5

The more common side effects that can occur with use of pimecrolimus include headache, common cold, stuffy nose, sore throat, or cough.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Long-term use warning. It’s not known if pimecrolimus is safe to use for long periods of time (over 6 weeks). Rare cases of cancer, such as skin cancer or lymphoma, have been reported. As a result, you should avoid continuous long-term use of pimecrolimus.

Severe allergy

Severe allergy. Don’t use pimecrolimus if you’ve had an allergic reaction to this drug or to any other ingredients in the cream.

What is pimecrolimus?

This drug is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a topical cream. Topical means it’s applied to the skin.

This drug is available as the brand-name drug Elidel. It’s not available as a generic medication.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. This condition is also called eczema, and is common in children. Symptoms of this condition include dry, scaly, or itchy skin.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called calcineurin inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. This condition is also called eczema, and is common in children. Symptoms of this condition include dry, scaly, or itchy skin.

This drug is prescribed for people who have tried other topical treatments that haven’t worked. It should not be used long-term (over 6 weeks).

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called calcineurin inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Calcineurin inhibitors work by suppressing a part of the body’s immune system. This prevents the body from releasing certain substances that cause a reaction in your skin. This reaction results in the symptoms of dermatitis.

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SECTION 2 of 5

pimecrolimus Side Effects

Topical cream

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of pimecrolimus include:

  • headache

  • common cold, with symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose or sore throat

  • cough

  • influenza (the flu), with symptoms such as body aches or fever

  • fever

  • viral infection, including skin viral infections

  • skin irritation, including a burning or warm sensation on the treated area

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Skin infections that don’t go away or are bothersome. Symptoms in the area of the infection can include:

    • swelling
    • pain
    • tenderness
  • Swollen glands that don’t go away or are bothersome. Symptoms can include:

    • tender glands (such as those in the neck)
  • Severe allergic or anaphylactic reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • Fever that doesn’t go away

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

For the first few days of treatment, you may have a burning sensation or a feeling of warmth in the treated area. These side effects should go away within a few days.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

pimecrolimus May Interact with Other Medications

Topical cream

Elidel can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Antibiotics

When used with Elidel, certain drugs used to treat bacterial infections can increase the amount of Elidel in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from Elidel. Examples of these drugs include:

  • erythromycin
  • clarithromycin
  • telithromycin

Antifungal drugs

When used with Elidel, certain drugs used to treat fungal infections can increase the amount of Elidel in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from Elidel. Examples of these drugs include:

  • itraconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • fluconazole

Stomach acid drugs

Cimetidine is used to treat problems with stomach acid. When used with Elidel, it can increase the amount of Elidel in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from Elidel.

Other drugs

Calcium channel blockers are used to treat several conditions, such as high blood pressure and migraine headaches. When used with Elidel, these drugs can increase the amount of Elidel in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from Elidel. Examples of calcium channel blockers include:

  • diltiazem
  • verapamil

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
weakened immune system
People with a weakened immune system

This drug has not been studied in people who have a weak immune system. It isn’t known if this drug is safe and effective for these people.

cancer or pre-cancerous skin conditions
People with cancer or pre-cancerous skin conditions

Avoid using this drug if you have a cancerous or pre-cancerous skin condition, such as Netherton’s syndrome (a rare inherited disorder).

bacterial and viral skin infections
People with bacterial and viral skin infections

Avoid using this drug until your skin infection is resolved.

lymph node disease
People with lymph node diseases

This drug has been shown to increase the risk of lymph node diseases. Avoid using this drug if you already have lymph node disease.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for children
For children

Children may have higher levels of this drug in their body compared to adults. Children may also have a higher risk of viral infections.

This drug should not be used in children younger than 2 years old.  

call doctor
Contact with drug

This drug can be transferred to other people if they touch your treated skin. Talk to your doctor about what you should do to prevent this from happening.

when to call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • Symptoms of your atopic dermatitis don’t go away after using this drug for 6 weeks.
  • You become pregnant while using this drug.
allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling
  • hives (itchy welts)

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take pimecrolimus (Dosage)

Topical cream

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (second-line treatment)

Brand: Elidel

Form: Topical cream
Strengths: 1% pimecrolimus in 30-g tube, 1% pimecrolimus in 60-g tube, and 1% pimecrolimus in 100-g tube
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Apply a thin layer to the affected area twice daily.

Child dosage (ages 2–17 years)

Apply a thin layer to the affected area twice daily.

Child dosage (ages 0–1 years)

This medication should not be used in children younger than 2 years.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop using the drug suddenly or don’t use it at all

Your atopic dermatitis symptoms may not go away and may get worse. These symptoms can include dry, scaly, or itchy skin.

If you miss doses or don’t use the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • headache
  • common cold
  • cough
  • influenza (the flu)
  • fever
  • viral infection, including skin infections
  • skin irritation, including a burning or warm sensation on the treated area

If you think you’ve used too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Apply your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, use only one dose. Never try to catch up by using two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms of atopic dermatitis should get better.

This drug is used for short-term treatment.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t freeze this medication.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you how to use this medication. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Wash your hands before applying this drug.
  • Don’t apply this drug before a bath, shower, or swimming.
  • If you’re applying this drug after a bath or shower, make sure your skin is dry first.
  • Don’t use sun lamps, tanning beds, or ultraviolet light therapy while using this drug. Also, limit your body’s exposure to the sun (not just the treated area).
  • Don’t cover the treated skin with bandages, dressings or wraps.
  • Don’t use this drug in the eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum.
  • Apply this medication only to the affected skin.
  • Stop using this drug when your symptoms, such as rash, itch, and redness, go away. If symptoms continue for 6 weeks or longer, contact your doctor.

Clinical monitoring

Check your skin for signs of infection. Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • swollen area of skin

Sun sensitivity

This drug can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Avoid the sun if you can. If you can’t, be sure to wear loose protective clothing.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does pimecrolimus Cost?

Topical cream

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Lowest price for pimecrolimus

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for pimecrolimus on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 30, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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