How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Calcipotriol belongs to the family of medications known as vitamin D analogues. It is used to treat the skin condition psoriasis. It may be used alone or in combination with other medications (topical corticosteroid, cyclosporin A, or acitretin). Calcipotriol works by controlling the excessive production of skin cells seen in psoriasis.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

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What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram of white cream contains calcipotriol 50 µg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: cetostearyl alcohol, chlorallylhexaminium chloride (dowicil 200), disodium edetate, disodium phosphate dihydrate, glycerol 85%, liquid paraffin, macrogol cetostearyl ether, purified water, and white soft paraffin.

Each gram of faintly translucent white to yellowish ointment contains calcipotriol 50 µg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: disodium edetate, disodium phosphate dihydrate, DL-a-tocopherol, liquid paraffin, polyoxyethylene-(2)-stearyl ether, propylene glycol, purified water, and white soft paraffin.

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How should I use this medication?

This medication is usually applied twice daily (in the morning and evening) to the affected areas of the skin. If needed, it may be applied once daily for maintenance treatment. When used in combination with topical corticosteroids, it can be applied once daily, at a different time of day than the other medication. When used in combination with cyclosporin A or acitretin, it can be used twice daily.

The maximum weekly adult dose for the cream or ointment is 100 g (5 mg of calcipotriol). Maximum doses for children are calculated based on body surface area and age. When the cream, ointment, or scalp solution are used together, the weekly maximum dose is based on the total amount of calcipotriol in each product, for a maximum weekly dose of 5 mg of calcipotriol for adults.

Wash your hands after applying the medication so that you do not get it on other parts of your body. Avoid getting the medication in your eyes or on your face. If the medication gets on your face, wash it off. If it gets in your eyes, flush the eyes with plenty of water. Do not take this medication by mouth.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important that this medication be used exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

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Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use calcipotriol if you are allergic to calcipotriol or to any of the ingredients of the medication.

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What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • burning, dry, irritated, peeling, or red skin
  • face and scalp irritation (when the medication is transferred from another part of the body)
  • itching, redness, and swelling of the skin

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness)
  • symptoms of high blood calcium levels (e.g., fatigue, mental confusion, loss of appetite, depression, nausea or vomiting, constipation)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

High calcium levels: If this medication is used for severe psoriasis covering large areas or is used in excess of the maximum recommended weekly dose, there is a risk of developing high calcium levels in the blood. Your doctor may monitor your blood calcium levels regularly while you are using this medication.

Skin cancer: When calcipotriol is used with ultraviolet radiation (e.g., some psoriasis treatments use light therapy), there may be an increased risk of developing skin cancer caused by ultraviolet radiation. Calcipotriol alone does not cause cancer.

Use in skin folds: Applying this medication to skin folds or creases increases the risk of irritation.

Use on the face: Do not use this medication on any part of the face, since this may cause redness, irritation, and itchiness. If any of these skin reactions develop, you should stop using this medication and contact your doctor immediately. People using calcipotriol should wash their hands thoroughly after applying to the affected areas and avoid touching any part of the face with their hands.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if calcipotriol passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 2 years of age. Children 2 to 14 years of age should apply the medication under the supervision of an adult.

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What other drugs could interact with this medication?

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.