Eczema or atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin condition characterized by itching, dryness and redness. Mild cases are frequently treated with moisturizers or topical corticosteroids. Stubborn cases of eczema are sometimes treated with powerful topical immune suppressing drugs such as Elidel and Protopic. The oral forms of these medications are used to dampen the immune system and prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. Initially, these drugs were thought to be relatively safe when applied to the skin. But the FDA has received increasing numbers of reports linking Elidel and Protopic to serious infection and even cancer in children. Although there are precautions about such problems in the official prescribing information, the FDA is considering beefing up the warnings. In the meantime, parents need to discuss the pros and cons of both Elidel and Protopic before treating their children’s eczema.
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