Drugs A - Z

Tacrolimus Topical ointment

It is used on the skin to treat eczema.

Generic Name: tacrolimus topical

Brand Names: Protopic

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

  • Long-term safety of topical tacrolimus not established.
  • Malignancies (e.g., skin cancers, lymphoma) reported rarely in patients treated with topical calcineurin inhibitors, including tacrolimus; causal relationship not established.
  • Avoid continuous long-term use of topical tacrolimus; limit application to areas affected by atopic dermatitis. (See Carcinogenicity under Cautions.)
  • Topical tacrolimus is not indicated for use in children <2 years of age; only the 0.03% ointment is indicated for use in children 2–15 years of age.

What is this medicine?

TACROLIMUS (ta KROE li mus) is used on the skin to treat eczema.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • cold sores or shingles
  • decreased immune function
  • Netherton's syndrome
  • receiving any form of light therapy (phototherapy, UVA, or UVB) to your skin
  • skin infection
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to tacrolimus, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for external use only. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Wash your hands before and after use. If treating a hand infection, wash hands before use only. Before applying this medicine, be sure your skin is completely dry. Apply a thin layer to the affected areas. Rub in gently and completely. Do not bathe, shower, or swim right after applying this medicine. This could wash off the ointment. Do not cover with a bandage or dressing unless your doctor or health care professional tells you to. You can wear normal clothing. Do not get this medicine in your eyes. If you do, rinse out with plenty of cool tap water. Do not use your medicine more often than directed.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • alcoholic beverages or medicines containing high percentages of alcohol
  • calcium channel blockers like diltiazem, nifedipine, nimodipine, nisoldipine
  • certain medicines used to treat fungal infections like itraconazole, ketoconazole, and fluconazole
  • cimetidine
  • erythromycin
  • vaccines

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Improvements to your skin may occur after the first few weeks of treatment. Even though your skin looks better, it is important to keep using the ointment as instructed by your health care provider. Tell your health care professional if your condition does not get better within the first few weeks of treatment or if it gets worse.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.While you are using this medicine, drinking alcohol may cause the skin or face to become flushed or red and feel hot. Let your health care provider know if you notice such reactions, especially if they bother you.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
  • chickenpox infection
  • cold sores or shingles
  • extreme tiredness
  • skin bleeding or change in your skin's appearance (color, change in a mole or freckle, new growth)
  • skin infection or infection of hair follicles
  • swollen glands

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • headache
  • increased sensitivity of the skin to hot or cold temperatures
  • irritation at the site or sites where you apply this medicine including stinging, soreness, a burning feeling, tingling, or itching
  • muscle pains
  • nausea


Last Updated: February 27, 2009
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, HealthMaps, Trust Marks, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.
Advertisement