What is Calcipotriene?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Calcipotriene is a medication which, in the U.S., is available with a doctor's prescription only. This drug is intended as a treatment for psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that results in itchy and sometimes painful red patches. While there is no cure for this condition, calcipotriene may help control the symptoms. It is applied topically to the skin, typically in the form of a cream, however, it is also available in a liquid solution.

This skin remedy is in a family of drugs known as synthetic vitamin D3 derivatives. It may help control symptoms by decreasing the overproduction of skin cells that is characteristic of psoriasis. This can help reduce the scaly red patches on the skin. Usually, a patient applies this medication twice daily, however, people should follow the dosage instructions of their doctor. Patients with psoriasis on the scalp may use the solution, while those with skin patches on other areas of the body generally use the cream.

Before applying calcipotriene solution, people should wash their hands thoroughly and comb their hair. After making a part in the hair near the scaly patch, the patient pours a small amount of the calcipotriene on the area. It may help for people to hold a washcloth to the top of the forehead to avoid having the medication spill onto the face. The solution should then be gently rubbed into the patch. Patients should carefully wash their hands again after they are finished.

Calcipotriene cream may be applied directly to the skin in small amounts, also after the patient washes his hands. The cream is not intended for use on the face. It should be massaged gently into the scaly patch until it is no longer visible. Patients should then thoroughly wash their hands, to avoid spreading the substance to their eyes or other sensitive areas. Areas of the skin where the cream is applied should not be covered with a bandage.

Prior to using any drug, including medicated creams, patients should inform their doctors of any other medical conditions they have, and any herbal supplements or traditional drugs they are taking. Calcipotriene should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding, as the risks are unknown. It should also not be applied to irritated, dry, or sunburned skin. People should avoid exposure to direct sunlight or tanning instruments while taking this drug. Patients typically use calcipotriene for a total of two to eight weeks, or as instructed by a physician.

Calcipotriene may cause some side effects, like dry or irritated skin, a rash, and itching. It may also result in worsening symptoms of psoriasis, burning, or stinging. Patients should inform their doctors of any side effects they experience.

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