Pimecrolimus cream (Elidel)

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Pimecrolimus cream is for external use only and should be applied thinly to any affected area(s) of skin.

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.

Do not drink alcohol - it can make your skin (particularly on your face) become flushed or red, and feel hot.
Type of medicineAn anti-inflammatory cream
Used forEczema (in adults or in children over 2 years of age)
Also calledElidel®
Available asSkin cream

Pimecrolimus cream helps reduce inflammatory skin reactions. It is prescribed by doctors who are skin specialists. It is for short-term use.

Pimecrolimus cream is prescribed for people with mild-to-moderate eczema, usually as an alternative to other treatments such as steroid creams or ointments. It is applied on to the skin (topically) to reduce symptoms such as inflammation, redness and itching.

Although pimecrolimus cream is only licensed for use in eczema, it is also prescribed 'off-licence' to people with psoriasis. Current medical practice supports its use, but if you have been prescribed it for this reason and you have any questions about your treatment, it is important that you ask your doctor.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can 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, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about the cream and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could 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 apply it to any area of skin that could be infected. 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 straightaway. Remember to wash your hands well after using the cream unless you are treating your hands.
  • If you forget to use the cream, don't worry, just apply it as soon as you remember, and then continue as before.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • It is important that you don't cover any area of skin treated with pimecrolimus with any dressings or bandages. This is because more of the medicine may be absorbed by your skin than is intended.
  • 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 there is no improvement in your skin after using pimecrolimus cream for six weeks, you should see your doctor again for further advice.
  • If you are due to have any vaccinations, it may be best to stop using pimecolimus for a while if the area you are treating with the cream is quite large. If this affects you (or your child), ask your doctor or nurse for further advice.
  • Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of a slightly increased risk of cancer (particularly skin cancer) associated with medicines like pimecrolimus. To help reduce this risk, do not use sunbeds, and avoid strong sunlight. On bright days, even if it is cloudy, use a sun cream with a high sun protection factor (an SPF of at least 15).
  • Do not drink alcohol because it can cause your skin and 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 more common ones associated with pimecrolimus. The best place to find a full list of the side-effects which can be associated with your medicine, is from the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Alternatively, you can find an example of a manufacturer's information leaflet in the reference section below. 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)
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)What 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 the cream, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

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

The cream 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. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine 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 dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

Do not 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 April 2015.
  • British National Formulary; 72nd Edition (Sep 2016) 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 makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other healthcare 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 (v2)
Last Checked:
29/11/2016
Next Review:
29/11/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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