Calcipotriol for psoriasis

  • Calcipotriol is usually applied once or twice each day.
  • Do not use more than the recommended amount.
  • Remember to wash your hands well after using it. This will help to prevent accidentally getting it on other areas of your skin.

About calcipotriol

Type of medicine Vitamin D analogue
Used for Plaque psoriasis in adults and children aged over 6 years
Also called Dovonex®
Dovobet® (calcipotriol with betamethasone)
Available as Ointment, gel and scalp solution

Calcipotriol is used to treat plaque psoriasis. It is similar to vitamin D, which is essential for healthy skin.

When you have psoriasis, patches of red, scaly skin called plaques develop, which tend to come and go throughout life. Treatment for psoriasis aims to clear the plaques as much as possible.

The skin cells in the outer layer of your skin multiply faster than normal in the patches of psoriasis. This causes older and dead skin cells to build up on the surface of your skin, causing red, scaly patches. Calcipotriol works by slowing this over-production of skin cells which eases the inflamed, scaly areas.

Sometimes calcipotriol is used in combination with a steroid called betamethasone (Dovobet®). It is not usually recommended that a steroid should be used long-term, so this combination is often used for four weeks, followed by treatment with calcipotriol alone.

Before using calcipotriol

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using calcipotriol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have been told you have high calcium levels in your blood, or if your body has problems processing calcium.
  • If you have severe liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have been told you have a form of psoriasis known as erythrodermic and pustular psoriasis. (This is because calcipotriol should only be used in these more severe forms of psoriasis, under the close supervision of a skin specialist.)
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

How to use calcipotriol

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about applying calcipotriol, and a full list of possible side-effects from using it. The manufacturer's instructions include that you should not use more than the maximum dose. This is:
    • 100 g of ointment per week for adults.
    • 75 g of ointment per week for children aged over 12 years.
    • 50 g of ointment per week for children aged between 6 and 12 years.
    • No more than 60 ml of scalp solution weekly.
    • For the gel, no more than 15 g in one day.
  • If you are using calcipotriol ointment and a scalp preparation, the maximum amount of each is less than the amounts stated above. If this applies to you, your doctor will give you instructions for the maximum amount of each to use.
  • Your doctor will tell you how often to use calcipotriol – it is usually applied once or twice each day. If you have been told to use it twice a day, use it in the morning and in the evening.
  • Calcipotriol can cause skin irritation. Because of this, you should not use it on your face.
  • If you have been given calcipotriol scalp solution for scalp psoriasis, you should use it twice each day, in the morning and evening. The solution will quickly dry after it has been applied.
  • If you have been prescribed calcipotriol with betamethasone gel (Dovobet® gel), this preparation is suitable to be used on patches of psoriasis on your skin and scalp. Use it once each day. For the best effect, leave it on during the day if you have applied it in the morning, or overnight if you have used it in the evening. Do not use Dovobet® on areas of your skin which you think might be infected, and do not cover any areas you have treated with a bandage or dressing.
  • Wash your hands well after using any calcipotriol preparation. This will help to prevent it getting on to any areas of your skin which are unaffected by psoriasis.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • You should start to see an improvement in your skin within two weeks of using calcipotriol, and this improvement should continue for up to eight weeks. Continue to apply it regularly for as long as you have been recommended in order to get the full benefit.
  • If you are also using a moisturiser for your skin, use this first and then wait for about 30 minutes before you apply calcipotriol.
  • Your skin may become more sensitive to sunlight while you are using calcipotriol. Do not use sunbeds and try to avoid sitting out in the sun.

Can calcipotriol cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common calcipotriol side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who use this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Skin redness, itching, irritation, or dryness This is usually mild, but if it continues or becomes severe, speak with your doctor as it may be a sign of an allergic reaction

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this preparation, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store calcipotriol

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.