Protopic ointment (generically known as Tacrolimus) is a prescription medication used to treat eczema, specifically atopic dermatitis. It belongs to a class of medicines called topical calcineurin inhibitors, which work by suppressing the immune system in the affected area.
Protopic ointment is applied to the skin and should be used as directed by a healthcare provider. It should not be used on areas of skin that are infected or on open wounds. Additionally, continuous, long-term use of topical calcineurin inhibitors, including Protopic ointment, in any age group should be avoided, and application limited to areas of involvement with atopic dermatitis.
Uses and Dosage
Protopic Ointment (Tacrolimus) is a medication that comes in the form of an ointment and is applied to the skin. Typically, it is applied twice a day to the affected area at the same time each day to ensure consistent use. Follow the instructions on the prescription label carefully, and patients should ask their healthcare provider or pharmacist to clarify any aspects of the medication use that they do not understand. Use Tacrolimus as directed, without using more or less than prescribed, or more frequently than prescribed by a healthcare provider.
To use the ointment, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Be sure that the skin in the affected area is dry.
- Apply a thin layer of tacrolimus ointment to all affected areas of your skin.
- Rub the ointment into your skin gently and completely.
- Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any leftover tacrolimus ointment.
Do not wash your hands if you are treating them with tacrolimus. You may cover the treated areas with normal clothing, but do not use any bandages, dressings, or wraps. Be careful not to wash the ointment off affected skin areas. Do not swim, shower, or bathe immediately after applying tacrolimus ointment.
Common Side Effects of Protopic Ointment (Tacrolimus):
- Flu-like symptoms
- Increased sensitivity of the skin to hot or cold temperatures
- Muscle or back pain
- Skin burning, stinging, redness, or soreness
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Swollen or infected hair follicles
- Tingling skin
Serious Side Effects of Protopic Ointment (Tacrolimus):
- Chicken pox or other blisters
- Cold sores
- Crusting, oozing, blistering, or other signs of skin infection
- Swelling of the hands, arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Swollen glands
Form and Strength
Protopic Ointment (Tacrolimus) is available in the following forms and strength:
Protopic Ointment: Topical Ointment
- Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive drug that can increase the risk of developing infections such as varicella and herpes zoster. Patients who have or develop malignant or premalignant skin conditions while using tacrolimus ointment should be evaluated and treated appropriately.
- The safety and effectiveness of Protopic Ointment in treating eczema in patients younger than 2 years old have not been established.
- If tacrolimus ointment is used on an open wound, there is a risk of systemic absorption and adverse effects such as bone marrow suppression and gastrointestinal side effects.
- Patients should avoid sun exposure or use of tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet light. Tacrolimus ointment may increase the risk of skin cancer and lymphoma.
- Patients should avoid using Protopic on areas of the skin with other active skin diseases. Topical administration of Protopic may cause stinging or burning at the site of application.
- Protopic should be used with caution in patients with a history of malignant disease, as this may increase the risk of developing skin cancer or lymphomas.
- Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their healthcare provider before using Protopic. Tacrolimus may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby or may cause harm to an unborn baby.
- Patients who use Protopic should avoid exposure to wind or cold temperatures, as this may increase the risk of stinging or burning at the site of application.
- Protopic should not be used with occlusive dressings or bandages, as this may increase the risk of systemic absorption and adverse effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long should I use Protopic Ointment?
Follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider regarding the duration of treatment. Do not use Protopic Ointment for longer than prescribed.
Can Protopic Ointment be used on the face or other sensitive areas?
Protopic Ointment can be used on sensitive skin areas, including the face and neck, if prescribed by a healthcare provider. However, there may be an increased risk of burning or stinging, so follow instructions for use carefully.
How quickly does Protopic Ointment work?
Protopic Ointment may take a few weeks to start working and may take up to 12 weeks of treatment before results are seen. Follow instructions for use and talk to your healthcare provider about what to expect.