Protopic is used to treat severe eczema. This drug works by decreasing cell activity in the body’s immune system, thus slowing the growth of the disorder. Protopic was marketed to be less powerful than steroids, and was safe to apply directly to the face—unlike steroids which can destroy skin. It was approved by the FDA in 2000 and became very popular in the United States, with Protopic being prescribed to millions of patients.

In 2006, the FDA required that a black-box warning be added to the Protopic label to warn against serious side effects. Protopic has been thought to cause skin cancer and lymphoma. As an immunosuppressant, Protopic lowers a patient’s immune system, making him or her more susceptible to cancer and other serious diseases.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Severe stinging, burning, itching, or soreness where the medicine is applied
  • Swollen glands
  • Redness or crusting around your hair follicles
  • Signs of a skin infection (redness, swelling, itching, oozing)

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Mild burning, stinging, or itching
  • Skin redness
  • Acne
  • Cold or flu symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
  • Headache
  • Feeling more sensitive to hot or cold temperatures
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