What are topical calcineurin inhibitors?

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Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Topical calcineurin inhibitors are drugs that are applied directly to the skin in the form of an ointment or cream. Two such drugs used in the treatment of psoriasis are tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel). They are often applied in areas where the skin naturally rubs together, such as the armpits. They are also the preferred therapy for psoriasis on the face. They are effective and safe for these areas. These drugs are usually not effective for plaque psoriasis.
 
Although tacrolimus and pimecrolimus are often used to treat psoriasis, they have not been approved by the FDA for this use. Their long-term safety is not known. 

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