If you have a certain kind of skin condition, your doctor may prescribe Opzelura for you. Opzelura is a prescription drug used in certain adults and children to treat:
To learn more about these skin conditions and how Opzelura is used, see the “What is Opzelura used for?” section below.
Opzelura contains the active ingredient ruxolitinib. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work). Opzelura comes as a cream that you apply to the affected areas of your skin.
Opzelura belongs to a group of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. The drug is not available in a generic form. It only comes as the brand name drug Opzelura.
Opzelura has a limitation of use. To learn more, see the “What is Opzelura used for?” section below.
Read on to learn more about Opzelura’s uses, side effects, and more.
The price of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers (if you have one) and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. A copay savings program may also be available.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Like most drugs, Opzelura may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Opzelura may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Side effects may vary depending on the condition you’re using Opzelura to treat. And keep in mind that a drug’s side effects can also depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Opzelura. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that Opzelura can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Opzelura’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Opzelura that have been reported include:
- common cold
- ear infection
- skin infection
- stuffy or runny nose
- infection of the tonsils
- acne where Opzelura is applied
- itchiness or discoloration where Opzelura is applied
- swelling in your hair follicles
- bladder infection
- mild allergic reaction*
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Opzelura can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Opzelura, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Opzelura that have been reported include:
- low level of neutrophils (a kind of white blood cell)
- low level of red blood cells
- low level of platelets (blood cells that help with blood clotting)
- boxed warnings:*
- risk of serious infections
- increased risk of death
- risk of cancer
- risk of heart and blood vessel problems
- risk of blood clots
- severe allergic reaction†
* For more information, see the “What should be considered before taking Opzelura?” section.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Opzelura. While allergic reaction wasn’t reported in studies of Opzelura, it can still happen.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Opzelura. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Opzelura.
Can Opzelura be used to treat alopecia (hair loss)?
No, Opzelura isn’t used to treat hair loss. The drug is only approved to treat eczema and vitiligo.
It’s not likely that your doctor would prescribe Opzelura off-label to treat hair loss. (Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.) This is because a study showed that using Opzelura cream for hair loss was not effective.
To learn more about treatments for hair loss, talk with your doctor.
How does Opzelura compare with alternatives such as Eucrisa?
Both Opzelura and Eucrisa are used to treat eczema. But these drugs have some differences.
Opzelura contains the active ingredient* ruxolitinib and is as a cream you apply to your skin. Eucrisa contains the active ingredient crisaborole and is an ointment you apply to your skin.
Opzelura is used to treat eczema and vitiligo in adults and in children ages 12 years and older. Eucrisa is used to treat eczema in adults and in children ages 3 years and older.
To learn more about how Opzelura and Eucrisa compare, or if one of them may be right for you, talk with your doctor.
* An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.
Could my doctor prescribe Opzelura for psoriasis?
It’s possible, although this isn’t an approved use for Opzelura.
Researchers are currently studying the effects of Opzelura on plaque psoriasis. To find out about treatments for plaque psoriasis, talk with your doctor.
Opzelura is a prescription drug used to treat eczema and vitiligo in certain adults and children. It comes as a cream that you’ll apply to the affected areas of your skin.
Opzelura works by blocking two proteins in the immune system. It’s unknown exactly how blocking these proteins helps treat eczema and vitiligo.
See below for details about each of Opzelura’s uses.
Opzelura for eczema
Opzelura is used to treat mild to moderate eczema in adults and in children ages 12 years and older. With eczema, you have cracked, itchy, and swollen patches of skin. These patches can appear on the elbows, knees, face, or neck.
Your doctor can prescribe Opzelura if you’ve tried other prescription steroid creams for your eczema, such as hydrocortisone. Some people can’t use other prescription creams, so doctors can prescribe Opzelura as a first option for them.
Opzelura for nonsegmental vitiligo
Opzelura is also used to treat nonsegmental vitiligo in adults and children 12 years and older.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes a loss of melanocytes. (Melanocytes are a kind of cell that give color to the skin.) People with vitiligo have white patches on their skin. With nonsegmental vitiligo, the patches can appear anywhere on both sides of the body.
For vitiligo, Opzelura works by reducing the number of these skin patches or making them less severe.
Limitation of use
Opzelura has a limitation of use. Doctors likely won’t prescribe Opzelura for you if you’re taking certain other medications. These other drugs include:
- biologic drugs, such as baricitinib (Olumiant) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz)
- other Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors (the group of drugs Opzelura belongs to), such as fedratinib (Inrebic)
- immunosuppressant drugs such as azathioprine (Imuran) and cyclosporine (Neoral)
To learn more, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Opzelura that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always follow the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strength
Opzelura comes as a cream that you apply to your skin on the affected areas. The cream comes in a tube that’s available in two sizes: 60 grams (g) or 100 g.
Opzelura comes in one strength of 1.5%.
You’ll apply a thin layer of Opzelura to the affected area of the skin twice per day.
Dosage for eczema
For eczema, you’ll apply Opzelura to the rash twice per day. You can apply Opzelura on up to 20% of your body surface area. (Your doctor will show you exactly where to apply Opzelura and how much to use so you don’t apply more than needed.)
You should not use more than a 60-g tube per week or more than a 100-g tube in a 2-week period.
Dosage for vitiligo
For vitiligo, you’ll apply Opzelura to the affected areas twice per day. You can apply Opzelura on up to 10% of your body surface area. (Your doctor will show you exactly where to apply Opzelura and how much to use so you don’t apply more than needed.)
You should not use more than a 60-g tube of Opzelura per week or more than a 100-g tube per 2-week period.
Questions about Opzelura’s dosing
Below are some common questions about Opzelura’s dosing.
- What if I miss a dose of Opzelura? If you miss a dose of Opzelura, apply your dose as soon as you remember. But if it’s close to when your next dose is due, skip the missed dose and apply your next dose at its regular time. If you’re unsure when to use Opzelura after missing a dose, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Will I need to use Opzelura long term? Depending on the skin condition you’re using Opzelura to treat, you might need to use it long term. For eczema, you’ll use Opzelura for up to 8 weeks. For vitiligo, you likely won’t use Opzelura for more than 24 weeks, but in rare cases, you may need to take it longer. To find out how long you’ll need to use Opzelura, talk with your doctor.
- How long does Opzelura take to work? For eczema, you might notice your symptoms improving within a few days or a few weeks. Opzelura may take longer to work if you’re treating vitiligo. If your symptoms have not improved after 24 weeks of using Opzelura, talk with your doctor.
Your doctor will explain how you should use Opzelura. They’ll also explain how much to use and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s directions.
You’ll apply a thin layer of Opzelura to the affected area twice per day.
Accessible medication containers and labels
If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies may provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text into audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Opzelura and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Opzelura affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering treatment with Opzelura include your overall health and any medical conditions that you may have.
Tell your doctor if you’re taking other medications. This is important because some drugs can interfere with Opzelura. These and other considerations to discuss with your doctor are described below.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Opzelura, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also, describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Opzelura.
For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Boxed warnings” section below.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Opzelura can interact with several types of drugs. These include:
- the rheumatoid arthritis drugs baricitinib (Olumiant), tofacitinib (Xeljanz), and upadacitinib (Rinvoq)
- the myelofibrosis drugs fedratinib (Inrebic) and ruxolitinib (Jakafi)
- the eczema drug abrocitinib (Cibinqo)
- the immunosuppressant drugs cyclosporin (Neoral) and azathioprine (Imuran)
- the antifungal drug ketoconazole
This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Opzelura. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with the use of Opzelura.
Opzelura has several
Boxed warnings for Opzelura include:
Risk of serious infections. Using Opzelura may raise your risk of infections, such as tuberculosis, fungal infections, and opportunistic viral and bacterial infections. (Opportunistic infections are caused by germs that usually don’t infect a person with a healthy immune system.) Some people have also reported serious lung infections with Opzelura.
These infections are serious and may require treatment in a hospital. In some cases, they can be fatal if not properly treated.
Before starting Opzelura, tell your doctor if you have an infection. They’ll likely treat the infection before you begin using Opzelura. If you develop a serious infection during your Opzelura treatment, your doctor will have you stop using the drug until your infection clears up.
If you have a long lasting infection, your doctor will consider the risks and benefits of using Opzelura. Due to this risk, they may not prescribe the drug if you have hepatitis B or C. If they do prescribe Opzelura to you and you have a long-term infection, your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of infection during treatment.
If you’re concerned about your risk of infection with Opzelura, talk with your doctor.
Risk of cancer. Opzelura may raise the risk of certain cancers, such as lymphoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. People who smoke or have smoked in the past and use Opzelura may have a higher risk of developing cancer.
Your doctor will weigh the benefits and risks of treatment with Opzelura, especially if you:
- have cancer or have had it in the past
- develop cancer after starting Opzelura treatment
- smoke or used to smoke tobacco
During treatment with Opzelura, your doctor will check your skin for cancer. You may continue needing skin cancer checks after you stop using Opzelura. To prevent skin cancer while using Opzelura, you should limit your exposure to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) light by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection.
Risk of heart and blood vessel problems. Opzelura can cause certain heart and blood vessel problems. These include stroke, heart attack, and death.
The risk of these problems may be higher in people who:
- smoke or used to smoke tobacco
- are age 50 years and older and who have rheumatoid arthritis and at least one risk factor of heart disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure
Your doctor will weigh the benefits and risks of prescribing Opzelura for you. If you have a stroke or heart attack during your Opzelura treatment, your doctor will have you stop using it.
Risk of blood clots. Opzelura can raise your risk of blood clots. Blood clots can block blood vessels in the lungs or legs. Bigger clots can also block major arteries. In some cases, blood clots can be fatal.
If you have factors that raise your risk of a blood clot, your doctor may not prescribe Opzelura for you. According to studies of a drug similar to Opzelura, people ages 50 years and older with at least one risk factor related to the heart or blood vessels may have a higher risk of blood clots. An example of this kind of risk factor is heart disease.
Symptoms of a blood clot may depend on where the blood clot occurs. But symptoms to watch for include trouble breathing and warmth, pain, or swelling in the affected area. If you have symptoms of blood clots while taking Opzelura, your doctor may tell you to stop using the drug.
Increased risk of death. Opzelura may raise the risk of death in certain people. This risk affects adults ages 50 years and older with rheumatoid arthritis and at least one risk factor of heart disease. Examples of these risk factors include high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
An increased risk of death wasn’t reported in studies of Opzelura, but it’s been reported with other Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors (the group of drugs Opzelura belongs to). But it’s important to note that the JAK inhibitors associated with this risk were drugs taken by mouth, and Opzelura is a cream you apply to your skin. Your body doesn’t absorb creams the same way as medications taken by mouth.
If you’re concerned about an increased risk of death from Opzelura, talk with your doctor before using this drug.
Opzelura may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Opzelura is a good treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Opzelura. Factors to consider include the following:
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Opzelura or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Opzelura. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Opzelura and alcohol
It should be safe to drink alcohol with Opzelura.
But some people find that drinking alcohol is a trigger for eczema symptoms. If this is the case for you, your doctor may advise you to avoid or limit alcohol.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about the amount that may be safe to drink during your Opzelura treatment.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s unknown if it’s safe to use Opzelura during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting treatment with Opzelura.
If you use Opzelura while pregnant, consider enrolling in the drug’s pregnancy registry. Pregnancy registries collect data about a drug’s safety during pregnancy. To learn more or sign up, call 855-463-3463.
The maker of Opzelura recommends that you do not breastfeed while using the drug and that you wait at least 4 weeks after applying your last dose before breastfeeding.
Do not use more Opzelura than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
You should not use Opzelura on more than 20% of your body surface area for eczema or more than 10% of your body surface area for vitiligo. (Your doctor will show you exactly where to apply Opzelura and how much to use so you don’t apply more than needed.)
If you’re concerned about using too much Opzelura, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What to do in case you use too much Opzelura
Call your doctor if you think you’ve used too much Opzelura. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control 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.
If you have questions about using Opzelura, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Your doctor can tell you about other treatments you can use for your condition. Here’s a list of articles that you might find helpful:
Questions you may want to ask include:
- Should I apply moisturizing cream to my skin before or after Opzelura?
- Which facial acne treatments can I use with Opzelura if I have vitiligo?
- Is it better to apply Opzelura after a hot shower?
To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.
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.