Calcipotriol

Printer-friendly version

What is Calcipotriol?

Calcipotriol is a form of synthetic vitamin D3 which is approved for treating plaque psoriasis. It belongs to the group of drugs known as Vitamin D Analogues.

How does it work?

Calcipotriol slows down the rate of skin cell growth, flattens psoriasis lesions and removes scale. A lotion formulation has been developed to be used on the scalp. It is not as effective at decreasing inflammation, though for most patients redness will improve over time.

Who can get it?

The cream is available on prescription for those over 6 years of age and the scalp solution can be used for people over 12 years of age.

How is it used?

Calcipotriol cream should be applied twice daily directly to psoriasis lesions. Calcipotriol can irritate unaffected skin. It is important to follow your doctor's directions in applying Calcipotriol. Patients should always wash their hands thoroughly after applying the medication to avoid spreading it to unaffected areas of skin.

Using Calcipotriol on the scalp
Calcipotriol scalp solution is a water- and alcohol-based formulation specifically designed for treating scalp psoriasis . (available from Sandoz Ltd)
The solution should be used twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It should be put on the parts of the scalp that are affected by psoriasis. It is recommended that children should not use the solution.
When using the solution the head should be tilted to make sure the solution does not run on to the face. It may help to part the hair before using the solution. Position the nozzle close to the scalp then squeeze the bottle gently and apply a few drops on to the affected area. Rub the solution in gently. One or two drops is enough to cover an area about the size of a postage stamp.
Avoid getting the mixture on the face or around the eyes, where it can cause irritation. Sweat can carry the medication onto the face and neck as well, so it is important to protect unaffected areas of skin.
Using Calcipotriol for nail psoriasis
Whilst calcipotriol has not been licensed for nail psoriasis some doctors have found it to be successful in treating nail psoriasis for some patients. In one study, Calcipotriol ointment (available from LEO Pharma) proved about as effective for nail psoriasis as a combination ointment of salicylic acid and a topical steroid.

What are the side effects?

Calcipotriol has no known serious side effects when used according to guidelines. The most common minor side effect is skin irritation, usually in the form of stinging or burning. This adverse reaction to Calcipotriol is generally mild and temporary, and the irritation should decrease as the skin becomes accustomed to the medication.
Less common side effects for Calcipotriol include dry skin, peeling, rash, dermatitis and worsening of psoriasis.
Calcipotriol is not recommended for use during pregnancy unless under medical supervision. It should not be used during breast-feeding, as the medication may be passed through breast milk.

How do I get Calcipotriol?

Available by prescription.

Marketed by

Calcipotriol ointment is known commercially as Dovonex® and is marketed in the UK by Leo Pharma.

Calcipotriol scalp solution is marketed in the UK by Sandoz Ltd.