|Type of medicine||Vitamin D analogue|
|Used for||Plaque psoriasis|
Calcitriol is used to treat plaque psoriasis. It is similar to vitamin D, which is essential for healthy skin.
If you have psoriasis, patches of red, scaly skin called plaques develop, and these tend to come and go throughout life. Treatment for psoriasis aims to clear the plaques as much as possible.
Skin cells in the outer layer of your skin multiply faster than normal in patches of psoriasis. This causes older and dead skin cells to build up on the surface of your skin, causing the red, scaly patches. Calcitriol ointment works by slowing the over-production of skin cells, which eases these inflamed, scaly areas.
Before using calcitriol
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using calcitriol ointment 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 calcitriol ointment should only be used in these more severe forms of psoriasis under 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 calcitriol
- 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 calcitriol, and a full list of possible side-effects from using it.
- Wash and dry the areas of your skin which are affected and then apply a thin layer of ointment. Do this twice each day - it is usually recommended that you apply calcitriol in the morning, and in the evening before going to bed. If required, it can be used on areas of your body such as your face, hairline, armpits, elbows and knees.
- You should not use more than 30 g of calcitriol ointment per day, and you should not apply it to more than a third of your body surface each day. As a guide, a third of your body is approximately one full arm and one full leg. This is because calcitriol is absorbed through your skin and can cause problems if more than these amounts are used.
- Wash your hands well afterwards. This will help to prevent the ointment from 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.
- If you are also using a moisturiser for your skin, use this first and then wait for about 30 minutes before you apply calcitriol ointment.
- Do not cover any areas of skin that have been treated with calcitriol with a dressing or a bandage. This is because it would cause you to absorb too much calcium into your bloodstream and this will cause problems.
- You should start to see an improvement in your skin within two weeks of using the ointment, 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 have been advised to use calcitriol on your face, apply it carefully so that you do not get any ointment into your eyes. Also, remember to apply a thin layer only, as there is a greater chance it could cause irritation on your face.
Can calcitriol 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 calcitriol side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who use this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Skin redness, itching, or irritation||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 calcitriol
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Calcitriol only keeps for eight weeks once the tube has been opened, so do not use any ointment which has been opened for longer than this. Request a fresh supply through your doctor.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Silkis® 3 micrograms per g ointment; Galderma (U.K) Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2009.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr John Cox|
|Last Checked: 05/09/2012||Document ID: 8649 Version: 2||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.