Elidel (pimecrolimus) is a prescription drug used to treat atopic dermatitis. The drug comes as a cream you apply to affected areas of skin, usually twice per day.

Elidel is prescribed for adults and children ages 2 years and older to treat mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema). It’s usually prescribed if other topical (applied to the skin) drugs for eczema haven’t worked for you in the past. Or you’re unable to use other topical drugs to treat your eczema.

The active ingredient in Elidel is pimecrolimus. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Elidel belongs to a group of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors.

This article describes the dosage of Elidel, as well as its strength and how to take it. To learn more about Elidel, see this in-depth article.

The table below highlights the basics of Elidel’s dosage.

Prescribed forUsual dosage
adults and children 2 years and older with mild to moderate eczema thin layer applied to affected areas of skin twice per day

Keep reading for more details about Elidel’s dosage.

What is Elidel’s form?

Elidel comes as a cream that you apply to the areas of your skin that have eczema.

What strength does Elidel come in?

Elidel comes in one strength of 1%. This means that 1 gram (g) of Elidel cream contains 10 milligrams (mL) of pimecrolimus.

What’s the usual dosage of Elidel in adults?

Your doctor will likely prescribe the smallest dosage for the shortest amount of time that provides the desired effect. The information below describes the dosage that’s commonly used or recommended. But be sure to apply the dosage your doctor prescribes. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Dosage for eczema

The typical Elidel dosage for adults with mild to moderate eczema is a thin layer applied to areas of skin with eczema twice per day.

Based on risks with long-term use (see the boxed warning information at the beginning of this article), your doctor will likely prescribe the smallest dose for the shortest time possible to manage your symptoms. Your doctor will likely want to assess how Elidel is working for you about 6 weeks after you begin treatment.

What’s the dosage of Elidel for children?

Elidel is used to help treat mild to moderate eczema in children ages 2 years and older. Children under 2 years old should not use Elidel.

The dosage for children is the same as the dosage for adults. This is a thin layer of the cream applied to areas of skin with eczema twice per day.

For more information about Elidel’s dosage for children, talk with your child’s doctor or a pharmacist.

Is Elidel used long term?

No, Elidel isn’t intended to be a long-term treatment (see the boxed warning information at the beginning of this article). Using Elidel for longer than 1 year hasn’t been studied.

Your doctor will likely recommend stopping Elidel as soon as your eczema symptoms (such as skin rash or itch) resolve. If your symptoms continue after 6 weeks of Elidel use, your doctor will likely reevaluate your treatment plan.

The dosage of Elidel you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:

  • the severity of your atopic dermatitis
  • your age
  • other conditions you may have

If you have a bacterial or viral skin infection, your doctor will likely recommend treating the infection before you start Elidel.

If you develop one of the following conditions while using Elidel, your doctor will likely recommend stopping the drug:

If you have one of the following conditions, your doctor will likely recommend a different treatment for your eczema:

  • a weakened immune system or immunosuppressant medication use
  • precancerous or cancerous sections of skin also affected by eczema which Elidel would be used on
  • Netherton syndrome, a rare hereditary skin disorder that may cause more amounts of Elidel to be absorbed into your body
  • previous allergic reaction to Elidel or any of its ingredients

Elidel comes as a cream that you apply to the areas of your skin that have eczema.

Wash your hands when you’re ready to apply Elidel. Make sure the area you’re putting the cream on is dry. Squeeze out the smallest amount that will thinly cover the area. After applying the cream, wash your hands again (unless you’re treating eczema that’s on your hands).

Do not place a bandage or other covering over any area where Elidel was applied. This could increase the amount of the drug that’s absorbed into your body. You should also avoid showering or swimming right after you apply Elidel, as this could wash it off.

You should try to avoid sun exposure while using Elidel. This includes exposure to artificial light sources, such as tanning beds.

For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Elidel, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Accessible drug containers and labels

Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:

  • have large print
  • use braille
  • feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio

Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.

If you miss a dose of Elidel, apply it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and apply your next dose at its usual time. Do not apply extra cream to make up for a missed dose. If you’re not sure whether you should apply a missed dose, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you need help remembering to apply your dose of Elidel on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.

Do not use more Elidel than your doctor prescribes, as this can lead to harmful effects.

What to do in case you use too much Elidel

Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve applied too much Elidel. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach America’s Poison Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Elidel’s dosage.

How long does it take for Elidel to start working?

Elidel starts to work after your first dose. In studies, some people noticed skin improvement at about 8–15 days. But others noticed improvement after about a month. Your doctor will monitor you during treatment to be sure the drug is working to manage your condition.

If you have other questions about what to expect from your Elidel treatment, talk with your doctor.

Can Elidel be used for vitiligo? If so, what’s the dosage?

Elidel isn’t approved for vitiligo. But in some cases, your doctor may prescribe it off label for this use. (With off-label use, a doctor prescribes a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)

A 2019 research review showed Elidel may be helpful in treating vitiligo. But because the drug isn’t approved for this use, the manufacturer doesn’t provide recommended dosages for vitiligo. Your doctor will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.

To learn more about your treatment options for vitiligo, including Elidel, talk with your doctor.

The sections above describe the usual dosage provided by Elidel’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends this drug, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.

Remember, you should not change your dosage of Elidel without your doctor’s recommendation. Only use Elidel exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage. Examples of questions you may want to ask include:

  • Can I reduce my dosage to once per day if I feel like that’s all I need to manage my eczema?
  • Can I continue to use topical corticosteroids while I use Elidel?
  • Can I restart Elidel if my eczema returns after initially stopping it?

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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 another 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.