Calcipotriol

Easy-to-read medicine information about calcipotriol – what it is, how to apply it safely and possible side effects. Calcipotriol is also called Daivonex and, in combination with a steroid, Daivobet and Enstilar.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medication for psoriasis
  • Daivonex®
  • Daivobet®
  • Enstilar®

What is calcipotriol?

Calcipotriol is an ointment used for the treatment of plaque psoriasis, a condition where red scaly patches develop on your skin, called plaques. The patches vary in size from time to time and can be itchy. Treatment for psoriasis aims to clear the plaques as much as possible. Read more about psoriasis

Calcipotriol works by slowing this overproduction of skin cells, which eases the inflamed, scaly areas. It is made from vitamin D, which is a vitamin essential for healthy skin.

Calcipotriol is available alone (Daivonex®) and in combination with a steroid (Daivobet® and Enstilar®). It is not recommended that steroids be used long term, so this combination is often used for about a month, followed by treatment with calcipotriol alone. Calcipotriol products are available in different forms:

  • Daivonex comes as an ointment.
  • Daivobet comes as a gel and an ointment.
  • Enstilar comes as a spray foam that is sprayed on to your skin where it is affected by psoriasis.

How to use calcipotriol

  • Calcipotriol alone (Daivonex®) is usually applied 2 times each day. If you have been told to use it twice a day, use it in the morning and in the evening. 
  • Calcipotriol in combination with a steroid (Daivobet® and Enstilar®) is usually applied 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. It is suitable to be used on patches of psoriasis on your skin and on your scalp. For Enstilar spray foam, shake before use. Apply by holding the can at least 3 cm (1.5 inches) away from your skin and spray directly onto the affected area. Gently rub the foam into the affected areas of skin. For application onto your scalp, spray the foam into the palm of your hand and scoop the foam onto your finger and apply it directly to the affected areas of your scalp.

Always use calcipotriol exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how to use it, how often to apply it and any special instructions. You should start to see an improvement in your skin within a week or so. This improvement should continue for several weeks before you feel the full benefit. Continue to apply the preparation regularly for as long as you have been recommended so that you get the full benefit.

Other handy tips

  • Infected areas: Don't apply on areas of your skin that you think might be infected, and don't cover any treated areas with a bandage or dressing.
  • Moisturiser: If you are also using a moisturiser, use this first and then wait until it has soaked into your skin before you apply calcipotriol.
  • Avoid your face: Calcipotriol can cause skin irritation. Because of this, you should not use it on your face.
  • Wash your hands: After using any calcipotriol preparation, wash your hands well. This will help to prevent calcipotriol getting on to any areas of your skin that are unaffected by psoriasis, and causing irritation to them.
  • Sensitive to sunlight: Your skin may become more sensitive to sunlight than normal while you are using calcipotriol. Try to avoid sitting out in the sun and don't use sunbeds.

Precautions – before taking calcipotriol

  • Do you have high calcium levels, such as with Paget's disease?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start calcipotriol. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Side effects

Like all medicines, calcipotriol can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects* What should I do?**
  • Burning or stinging feeling 
  • These are quite common when you first start taking calcipotriol (they affect more than 1 in 10 people).   
  • These effects usually go away with time. Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Skin redness, including rashes or peeling
  • A rash on your face
  • Change in the colour of your skin 
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116.

Learn more

The following links have more information on calcipotriol.

Daivonex Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Daivobet Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Enstilar Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ

References

  1. Topical preparations for psoriasis New Zealand Formulary 
  2. Calcipotriol New Zealand Formulary 
  3. Calcipotriol + betamethasone New Zealand Formulary 
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 23 Sep 2020