Ruth, who blogs at What Allergy? How Protopic changed my life!

“Sorry were you talking to me?” This is how I have felt over the last few months.

Something really weird has happened and I wasn’t prepared for it at all.  I am still completely at sea as to how to react. Unexpectedly and in my early 40’s I have miraculously discovered that I actually have great skin and an amazing complexion. Who’d have thought it?

Those of you who know me will understand how long I’ve struggled with facial eczema. Sometimes it was just dreadful, sometimes it wasn’t too bad and sometimes I even felt like it was looking OK. Often on those occasions when I was feeling good about my skin someone would say, 'Oh you do struggle with your eczema, it looks really sore.' Or 'Your skin looks a bit dry, you should moisturise it.' WHAT? I had thought I looked half way normal! That put me in my place.

So to have people gazing at me open mouthed. To see their faces as they do a double-take and recognise me and say, 'WOW, Ruth you look great'.It’s weird. EVERYONE is showering me with compliments and telling me how incredible my skin looks. Even strangers... no really. What’s going on? I am really not used to compliments and completely ill equipped at dealing with them. This has honestly NEVER happened to me before. My husband now cuddles me and strokes my skin. This has also never happened, partly because it used to hurt me or tickle and make me itch. Another plus to Protopic!

Anyway I’ll tell you what’s been going on. Back in June, I visited my dermatologist with a full on face flare of eczema.  I always love it when my skin is bad when I have a check-up because it makes me feel like I’m not making it up, not a fraud and justified in being there.


My doctor, and I love him for this, prescribed me Protopic, which I had been trying to get hold of for YEARS.  I had seen how much it helped my sister who had similar rubbish skin and eczema just like me; Protopic worked so well for her; she now only uses it a few times a month as a maintenance dose and has beautiful clear skin.

Nothing, no medicine or steroid cream or treatment has ever had such a dramatic and life changing effect on my life. It really is a miracle. I can’t quite believe that this is my skin. Someone is going to knock on the door any minute now, walk in and say, ‘Hang on a minute, times up. Give back the nice skin. You can have your horrible dry, red itchy eczema face, that one isn’t yours’.

Eczema is a cruel condition and facial eczema as a woman is particularly hard to deal with. You can’t hide it. It’s right there. In your face! Consequently there are not many mirrors in our house because I have grown to loathe them. The little voice in my head whispers meanly that they’re lying, that it’s not true. That it can’t last, that it will come back. For now I’m struggling to put a lid on the little voice but I’m working on it. I still feel like the girl with the eczema on her face. Maybe I always will feel like that. I won’t forget those dark days I’m sure, but I will always be grateful for the chance to use this amazing new treatment.

RuthSo I would urge anyone with persistent facial eczema and red, sore flare-ups to speak to their doctor and ask for Protopic. I think it works on other parts of the body affected by persistent eczema as well.  It’s an expensive treatment which is why begging is necessary but it really does work.

Don’t take no for an answer. Demand a referral to a specialist dermatologist. Get the treatment you deserve because no one should have to live with sore, painful, red eczema on their face. What many underestimate is the effect long-term eczema has on quality of life. Everything is easier to cope with now I don’t have to worry about my skin. It’s just there, on my face. There might be a few red thread veins and odd wrinkle but I’m getting to know my skin now and I quite like it.

Protopic is a brand name for the immunosuppressive drug Tacrolimus, also known as Prograf and Advagraf. It was discovered in 1984 and is used mainly for transplant patients to reduce the activity of the patient's immune system and reduce the risk of rejection. Applied topically in eczema it suppresses the immune reaction in the skin (as do topically applied steroids) thereby preventing any inflammatory itching or swelling. However, tacrolimus does not cause the skin to thin (as do steroids) so can be used on a long term basis.

In medical speak:
Its mechanism of action is based on calcineurin inhibition, which results in decreased T-cell activation and inflammatory cytokine release.... Unlike topical corticosteroid agents, tacrolimus ointment does not cause a reduction in collagen synthesis or skin thickness. Because tacrolimus ointment does not cause skin atrophy, it may be safely used for months or years on all skin areas, including the face and intertriginous areas.

Aside from the active ingredient of tacrolimus in Protopic, the other (‘carrier’) ingredients are petrochemical in origin: mineral oil, paraffin, propylene carbonate, white petrolatum and white wax. The product is ‘free from’ all other ingredients.






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