Crisaborole 2% Ointment for Mild-to-Moderate Atopic Dermatitis

Aryan Riahi, BSc; Joseph M. Lam, MD, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2021;26(1) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, relapsing, inflammatory condition marked by pruritus and traditionally treated with topical corticosteroids (TCS) and topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCI). Crisaborole 2% ointment (a topical phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor) is a newer topical agent for the treatment of AD. Crisaborole is indicated for treating mild-to-moderate AD and evidence from phase 3 and phase 4 trials show that crisaborole is an effective agent with a well-tolerated side effect profile for children >2 years of age. The most common side effects are pain and paresthesia at the application site. Treatments with tolerable safety profiles such as crisaborole may provide an alternative to patients with TCS phobia. The role of crisaborole in AD therapy may become clearer as multiple phase 4 trials are currently underway and their results are poised to answer more questions, including its safety profile for patients as young as 3 months of age, potential use as a steroid-sparing agent, and direct comparisons to TCS and TCI, which are the current mainstay treatments of mild-to-moderate AD.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, relapsing, and inflammatory condition affecting the skin. Clinical features include xerosis, oozing, crusting, and erythema. Pruritus is a hallmark manifestation of AD that can cause frequent scratching, leading to skin infections and lichenification.[1] The face, scalp and extensor surfaces are commonly involved in infancy, while there is prominent flexural involvement in older children and adults.[2] While some patients experience resolution by adolescence, others have symptoms that persist into adulthood.[3] AD has been estimated to affect 15–30% of children and 10% of adults in industrialized nations.[4] The economic burden of AD has been estimated to be $3.8 billion per year.[5] Due to the chronic nature of AD and limitations of current available topical agents, especially for pediatric use, there remains an unmet need for novel AD therapies to address long-standing treatment gaps. Crisaborole 2% ointment (Eucrisa™) is a Health Canada and US FDA-approved topical phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitor for treating mild-to-moderate AD. Evidence from phase 3 and 4 trials demonstrate crisaborole is an effective agent with a well-tolerated side effect profile for children >2 years of age.[6]