Apply a thin layer of ointment twice a day, morning and evening.
Do not use more than the maximum recommended amount of ointment each day.
Remember to wash your hands well after using calcitriol. This will help to prevent accidentally getting it on other areas of your skin, which could cause irritation.
Calcitriol can cause skin irritation. If this becomes severe, stop using the ointment and ask your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
|Type of medicine||A topical vitamin D analogue|
|Used for||Plaque psoriasis in adults and children aged over 12 years|
Calcitriol is used to treat plaque psoriasis - this is the most common type of psoriasis. It is a condition where red scaly patches develop on your skin, called plaques. The most common areas affected are over your elbows and knees, the scalp, and the lower part of your back. The patches may vary in size from time to time and can be itchy. Treatment for psoriasis aims to clear the plaques as much as possible.
Psoriasis is caused by cells in the outer layer of your skin multiplying faster than normal. This causes the older and dead skin cells to build up on the surface of your skin, causing the red scaly patches. Calcitriol works by slowing this overproduction of skin cells which eases the inflamed, scaly areas. It is similar to vitamin D, which is a vitamin essential for healthy skin.
Before using calcitriol
To make sure that this is the right treatment for you, before you start using calcitriol ointment it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have been told you have a form of psoriasis known as erythrodermic or pustular psoriasis. This is because more severe forms of psoriasis like these should only be treated with close supervision of a skin specialist doctor.
- If you have been told you have high calcium levels in your blood, or if your body has problems processing calcium.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work, or any problems with the way your liver works.
- If you are taking any other medicines or using any other skin preparations. This includes any medicines 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 the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about applying calcitriol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience 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.
- 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 area 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, and causing irritation.
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 until it has soaked into your skin 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.
- 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.
- You should start to see an improvement in your skin within a few weeks.This improvement will continue for a further few weeks until you feel the full benefit. Continue to apply the ointment regularly for as long as you have been recommended so that you get the full benefit.
Can calcitriol cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with calcitriol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common calcitriol side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Skin redness, itching, discomfort or irritation||This is usually mild, but if it continues or becomes severe, please 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 the ointment, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
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 ointment only keeps for eight weeks once the tube has been opened, so do not use any ointment from a tube which has been opened for longer than this. Request a fresh supply through your doctor.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, please tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking or using.
This preparation is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it by accident, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Silkis® 3 micrograms per g ointment; Galderma (U.K) Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2013.
- British National Formulary; 69th Edition (Mar 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
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.
Dr John Cox