What is Elidel&Reg;?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Elidel® is a prescription topical cream is used to treat atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. The cream helps suppress the immune system's abnormal reaction that causes dry, red skin and blisters. It is a very potent medication that may cause adverse reactions in some people, so it is usually reserved for patients whose symptoms are unresponsive to more conservative treatments. It is important to use Elidel® exactly how it is prescribed and to attend regular checkups with a dermatologist to limit the chances of negative side effects.

The active ingredient in Elidel® is a chemical called pimecrolimus that acts as an immunomodulating agent. Pimecrolimus inhibits immune system cells from releasing inflammatory signals in the skin. The exact mechanism of action is not well understood, but research suggests that Elidel® slows the production of a specific type of white blood cell, called a T cell, that is highly involved in autoimmune disorders such as atopic dermatitis.


A dermatologist can set dosing instructions based on each patient's age and symptoms. Most adult patients are instructed to apply a thin layer of the cream over all affected skin twice daily. It is important to keep up with a dosing schedule to achieve maximum benefits. Elidel® is typically used until symptoms resolve, which may take anywhere from a few weeks to six months. The drug can induce problems if it is taken for longer than six months continuously, and patients who still have symptoms need to schedule appointments to be reevaluated.

Side effects are uncommon with Elidel® but some people experience burning, tingling, or warm sensations shortly after applying the cream. Acute side effects usually disappear after the first week of use. The cream may cause skin to dry out quickly, so a doctor may suggest applying a lotion or skin moisturizer on top of the cream. In addition, it is possible to have headaches, runny noses, skin and muscle soreness, and stomach pain. It is important to contact a doctor immediately if a skin infection develops or symptoms of eczema worsen with use.

In general, doctors avoid prescribing Elidel® to very young children, elderly patients, and people with weak immune systems. The drug's effects might be too extreme for an immature or weak immune system, leaving the body highly susceptible to infections and illness. In such patients, a doctor may decide to try a very small dose of Elidel® or prescribe a less potent medication to treat eczema symptoms. Most people who use Elidel® correctly enjoy fast, significant improvement to their symptoms without experiencing major complications.


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