Most people with moderate to severe eczema will have heard of Protopic. If you haven’t yet come across it it’s an appealing treatment because it isn’t a steroid so doesn’t thin the skin like most steroid ointments do.
I first discovered it when my sister was prescribed it to treat her eczema. She raved about it and said it was a miracle and worked really well, with a warning that it burns the skin at first but this reaction slowly fades so that it stops burning. She loved it so much, when I asked her to tell me about Protopic she said, simply, “It’s amazing! The difference for me on my face was phenomenal. I now rarely use it – once every few months if that – went down to 0.3 % quite quickly.”
My doctor, however, has been reluctant to prescribe it, stating that my eczema was “not flaring up badly enough or often enough to warrant prescription”. I pointed out that I only visited him to beg for steroids when it was really bad and managed to self treat my flare-ups most of the time without needing to consult a doctor.
Maybe he didn’t believe me. Maybe I didn’t need it at the time, but I suspect it has more to do with the cost of this ointment. It is far more expensive than normal steroids. In the last two years I have finally been referred to a real dermatologist and he has just prescribed me the magic bullet treatment – Protopic. I had almost given up hope of ever being allowed to try it.
So what is Protopic?
Protopic Ointment is a prescription ointment used to treat moderate to severe eczema. Protopic is for use after other prescription medicines have not worked or when a doctor recommends that other prescription medicines should not be used. Protopic should be used for short periods, and, if needed, treatment may be repeated with breaks in between. Protopic is available in two strengths. Adults may use either Protopic Ointment 0.1% or 0.03%. Children 2 to 15 years of age should only use Protopic Ointment 0.03%. Protopic should not be used on children younger than 2 years of age.
It contains the active ingredient Tacrolimus monohydrate which is an suppressant, not a steroid. So it is safe to use on the face and body and will not thin the skin like steroids can.
The way it works is to reduce inflammation and relieve redness and itch.
You can find out loads more information here: www.protopic.com
What are the side effects?
On first application Protopic can cause the skin to feel hot and itchy; people report a burning sensation on application. You can be allergic to one of the ingredients so if redness, itching of flushing persists stop using it and speak to your doctor.
My own experience was that it didn’t burn at all when I first used it on eczema on my back, however I did wake up later on very itchy, hot and it felt like there was an allergic reaction where the Protopic had been applied. I wasn’t expecting that as such a delayed reaction but it could have just been the reported burning side effect.
I have just applied a small amount to some eczema on my forehead, cheeks and chin and again, it didn’t really burn or itch. No more so than the skin was itching anyway. I certainly feel able to ignore the itch and it isn’t bad enough to make me feel I need to scratch.
However I do keep checking in the mirror that it’s not getting worse, it’s hard to ignore something that stings on application, as normally this a sign to wash it off immediately and stop using it.
To have a product which provokes a reaction on your skin which is the very symptom you wish to get rid of is a bit of a contradiction, but eventually the skin stops reacting in the same way, inflammation should reduce and itching recede. That’s the idea anyway.
I found this blog from Eczema Excellence useful and interesting, “Protopic, patanoia and obsession”.
I have high hopes for this ointment so fingers crossed it will have a positive effect on my skin. Has anyone else used it? Did it work for you?