As a "second-line" treatment, the use of Protopic is reserved for cases of atopic dermatitis (eczema) that have not responded to other medications. This drug works by suppressing the immune system, which helps relieve symptoms. Both children and older adults can use it, and Protopic may be prescribed "off-label" to treat other inflammatory skin conditions.
Protopic® (tacrolimus ointment) is a prescription skin medication approved for the short-term treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in people who otherwise have normal immune systems. It belongs to a class of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors. Protopic is a "second-line" treatment, which means it should only be used after other treatments have been tried and failed, or when other treatments are not an option.
Atopic dermatitis is a type of skin rash that causes inflammation and itching of the skin. It is commonly referred to as eczema, which is a general term for several types of skin inflammation. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema; however, there are other types with similar symptoms.
The condition can occur in people of all ages, but usually develops in early childhood and continues into the teen years. Although most people will stop having severe symptoms when they become adults, mild symptoms may persist.
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis may come and go, with periods of more severe symptoms, called flares, alternating with periods of minimal to no symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Red and scaly areas of the skin
- Skin that is thick and leathery
- Small raised bumps that may ooze fluid or crust over
- Itching, which may be more severe at night.
Atopic dermatitis can affect any area of the skin, but most commonly occurs on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet.
Protopic is used to treat flares of atopic dermatitis for short periods. It should be stopped once symptoms subside, but can be used again if needed after a break in treatment.