Topical therapy of atopic dermatitis with a focus on pimecrolimus

T. Luger*, A. S. Paller, A. D. Irvine, R. Sidbury, L. F. Eichenfield, T. Werfel, T. Bieber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic and relapsing, inflammatory skin disease characterized by impaired skin barrier function and immune system dysregulation that results in dryness, skin microbiome dysbiosis and intense pruritus. It is highly heterogeneous, and its management is demanding. Patients with AD are at greater risk of comorbidities such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as other atopic diseases. Early-onset AD cases typically improve or resolve in late childhood; however, it is proposed that the prevalence of persistent or adult-onset AD is higher than previously thought. Basic therapy consists of emollient application and trigger avoidance, and when insufficient, topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the first-line treatment. However, corticophobia/steroid aversion and TCS side-effects, particularly on sensitive skin areas, lead to low compliance and insufficient disease control. Several long- and short-term randomized controlled and daily practice studies have demonstrated that topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as pimecrolimus, have similar anti-inflammatory effects to low-to-medium strength TCS, reduce pruritus and improve the quality of life of patients. In addition, pimecrolimus does not cause skin atrophy, is steroid-sparing and has a good safety profile, with no evidence for an increased risk of malignancies or skin infections. In general, pimecrolimus cream is well-accepted and well-tolerated, encouraging patient adherence and leading to its use by many physicians as a preferred therapy for children and sensitive skin areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1505-1518
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology


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