A systematic review of the efficacy and safety of topical cyclosporine in dermatology

Dermatol Ther. 2022 Jun;35(6):e15490. doi: 10.1111/dth.15490. Epub 2022 Apr 23.


Cyclosporine-A (Cyc-A) was initially prescribed as systemic therapy for patients receiving solid organ transplants or in patients with graft versus host disease (GVHD). Topical Cyc-A is an ideal form of cyclosporine in the treatment of mucocutaneous disorders as it causes fewer systemic side effects and has more stable results than steroids; however, poor absorption through the skin makes the development of new formulations necessary to improve skin permeability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of topical Cyc-A in different dermatological conditions. A thorough systematic review was performed on PubMed/Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science databases as well as Google Scholar, and relevant studies from 2000 until January 3, 2022, were selected. The study was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA). Topical Cyc-A was observed to be an effective medication in the treatment of oral lichen planus, psoriasis, burning mouth syndrome, Pyoderma Gangrenosum, and Zoon's balanitis. Adverse side effects such as dysphagia, burning sensation, lips swelling, and gastrointestinal upset were reported following Cyc-A mouthwash use, whereas mild erythema, dryness, and fissuring of the skin were observed following the Cyc-A lipogel application. Topical Cyc-A was found to be a good alternative to traditional treatment regimens for immune-mediated mucocutaneous conditions. Cyc-A can be considered as a safe and efficient option in cases of long-term treatment as it does not have the same adverse effects of long-term steroids.

Keywords: dermatology; lichen planus; mucocutaneous; nail; psoriasis; skin; systematic review; topical; topical cyclosporine; topical cyclosporine-A.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclosporine
  • Dermatology*
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus, Oral* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Psoriasis* / drug therapy
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Steroids
  • Cyclosporine