Role of topical calcineurin inhibitors in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis: A review of pathophysiology, safety, and efficacy

Bethany A. Cook, Erin M Warshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is characterized by erythematous pruritic patches and plaques with greasy scale that occur in sebaceous areas. It is common, affecting up to 3% of the population. Past treatments have relied on a wide variety of anti-inflammatory and antifungal agents, but corticosteroids have limited use because of long-term adverse effects. Topical calcineurin inhibitors provide a safe alternative for the treatment of SD, as these drugs block the inflammatory cascade involved in the disease process and pose no risk of skin atrophy. Studies of topical pimecrolimus and tacrolimus in the treatment of SD have found that improvement occurred within 2 weeks, and if SD recurred after stopping treatment, it was significantly less severe. There have been no studies of the comparative efficacy of pimecrolimus versus tacrolimus for the treatment of SD. Common adverse effects of mild burning and irritation have been associated with the use of both of these agents. Safety profile studies are limited to studies of atopic dermatitis, which show no increase in infection rate, photocarcinogenicity, or signs of immunosuppression in patients using topical calcineurin inhibitors for long-term treatment. This article reviews the clinical trials of pimecrolimus and tacrolimus in the treatment of SD, focusing on efficacy and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 23 2009

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