Pimecrolimus cream (Elidel)

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Apply pimecrolimus cream twice daily, preferably in the morning and the evening.

You should see an improvement in your skin within a week or so.

The most common side-effect is a feeling of warmth/burning at the site of application.

Drinking alcohol can cause flushing and redness in some people using pimecrolimus.

Type of medicineAn anti-inflammatory cream
Used forEczema in adults or children over 2 years of age
Also calledElidel®
Available asSkin cream

Pimecrolimus helps reduce inflammatory reactions. When applied to the skin, it reduces the symptoms of atopic eczema such as inflammation, redness and itching. Pimecrolimus cream is prescribed for short-term use in people who have moderately severe eczema and who are unable to use 'standard' treatments, such as steroid creams or ointments. It is prescribed by doctors who are skin specialists.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you (or your child) start using pimecrolimus cream it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have swollen lymph glands or a weakened immune system.
  • If you have skin cancer.
  • If you have an inherited skin barrier condition, such as Netherton's syndrome.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the cream and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from using it.
  • Apply a thin layer of cream exactly as your doctor tells you to; this is usually twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Rub the cream into your skin gently. You should use it for the shortest time necessary to clear your condition (this may be several weeks). Although the cream is not intended to be used continually over a prolonged period of time, your doctor may suggest that you use it from time to time when your condition flares up.
  • Apply the cream to the affected areas of your skin only. Do not use it on any area that you think may be infected.
  • Remember to wash your hands after applying the cream (unless of course you are treating your hands!) This will help to prevent the cream getting on healthy areas of skin.
  • If you forget to use the cream at the normal time, don't worry, just apply it as soon as you remember, and then at your usual times as before.
  • If you are applying the cream to your face, try to avoid getting it near to your eyes or to the inside of your nose or mouth. If this does happen accidentally, wipe it off straight away.
  • Do not use a bandage, a dressing, or a sticking plaster to cover any areas of your skin which have been treated.
  • You can continue to use moisturising creams and lotions, but you should apply these after you have used pimecrolimus cream.
  • You should expect to see some improvement in your skin within a week or two of starting treatment. If after six weeks you still feel that your symptoms are no better, make another appointment to discuss this with your doctor.
  • If you are due to have any vaccinations, it may be best to delay these until after your treatment with pimecrolimus has finished. If this affects you (or your child), ask your doctor or nurse for further advice.
  • Pimecrolimus may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Avoid strong sunlight and sunbeds, and use a sun cream with a high sun protection factor.
  • Whilst you are using pimecrolimus cream, drinking alcohol may cause your skin or face to become flushed or red, and feel hot.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people who use pimecrolimus cream
What can I do if I experience this?
A burning feelingThis generally improves as you get used to the treatment
Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who use pimecrolimus creamWhat can I do if I experience this?
Skin infectionsLet your doctor know about this
Skin irritation, itching and rednessThis should soon pass, but speak with your doctor if any continue or become troublesome

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

This preparation is for use on the skin only. If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This preparation is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Elidel® 10 mg/g cream; Meda Pharmaceuticals, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2012.
  • British National Formulary; 65th Edition (Mar 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
28653 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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