Elidel cream is used to treat eczema or psoriasis. Find out how to apply it safely and possible side effects. Elidel is also called pimecrolimus.

What is Elidel?

Elidel is used to treat severe atopic dermatitis (also called atopic eczema). It is used when other medications have not worked well. It is also to treat psoriasis. Elidel works by suppressing your immune system and helps to control inflammation, redness and itching. Elidel belongs to a group of medicines called calcineurin inhibitors. It is also known as pimecrolimus.


  • In Aotearoa New Zealand Elidel is available as a 1% cream.
  • Always use Elidel cream exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much cream to use, how often to use it and any special instructions.
  • The cream is usually applied twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • Elidel should be used until your symptoms get better. Your doctor will advise you on how long to use the cream for. The following is a guide:
    • Eczema: Continue treatment for each episode of eczema for up to 6 weeks. Stop if your eczema worsens or if you don’t see any improvement after 6 weeks.
    • Psoriasis: Continue treatment for up to 4 weeks.
  • If you forget to apply your cream, apply it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time to apply your next dose, just apply it at the right time. Do not put on double the amount.

How to apply Elidel cream

  • Wash and dry your hands.
  • Open the tube. The first time you use the tube you will need to break the seal using the spike in the top of the cap.
  • Squeeze cream onto your finger. Apply a thin layer of cream and completely cover the affected skin.
  • Rub in gently and completely.
  • Replace the cap on the tube.
  • Wash your hands after applying the cream.

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.

You can use moisturisers (emollients) and sunscreen with Elidel cream. If you use moisturisers, they should be applied immediately after Elidel. Do not bath, shower or swim right after applying Elidel as this could wash the cream off. 

Precautions before starting Elidel

  • Do you have a weakened immune system or are you taking medicines that cause you to have a weakened immune system?
  • Are you taking any over-the-counter or complementary medicines, eg, vitamins, minerals, herbal or naturopathic medicines?
  • Are you breastfeeding or pregnant?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you use Elidel. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Precautions while using Elidel

  • Skin infection: Do not apply Elidel cream to infected skin areas including areas of the skin affected by viral infection such as cold sores (herpes simplex) or chicken pox. If your skin becomes infected during treatment with Elidel, you should inform your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to stop using Elidel until the infection has been adequately controlled.
  • Sun protection: Elidel cream makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. It's important to avoid unnecessary sun exposure and sunlamps and, when outdoors, protect your skin by applying a good sunscreen (SPF 30+).
  • Vaccination site: If you have had a vaccination recently, do not apply the cream to the site of vaccination until reddening of the skin and/or swelling disappears. If you accidentally applied the cream to this area, wipe it off and rinse well with clean water.
  • Dressings: Do not cover the skin being treated with bandages or dressings. However, you can wear normal clothing. Bandaging can increase the amount of the medicine you absorb through your skin and may cause harmful effects. 
  • Avoid or limit alcohol: Drinking alcohol while you are using Elidel cream may cause your skin or face to feel hot and become flushed or red.

What are the side effects of Elidel cream?

Like all medicines, Elidel cream can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Redness or burning feeling on your skin
  • This is quite common when you start using Elidel cream and usually goes away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if these symptoms do not go away, or if they are painful and bother you.
For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflet Elidel.

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

Elidel cream Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Calcineurin inhibitors British Association of Dermatologists, UK


  1. Pimecrolimus NZ Formulary
  2. Pimecrolimus DermNet NZ
Credits: Sandra Ponen, pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 10 Feb 2022