Calcipotriene (Topical)

Calcipotriene is a topical medication that is available solely as a prescription through a doctor.


Calcipotriene is used to treat plaque psoriasis that may form on the skin or the scalp. Calcipotriene is a type of vitamin D, which works to control the disease by altering how skin cells are formed in the affected areas.

Plaque psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can affect any part of the body. It consists of flaky red patches on the skin that are often covered with scaly silvery parts. The disease is most common on the elbows, knees, scalp, nape and lower back, and can result in severe itchiness or soreness for the sufferer. Patches of psoriasis are usually small in most cases; however, they can occasionally affect a larger area of skin.

Psoriasis is caused when the body creates a rapid build-up of cells. This cell build-up then causes the skin to scale and flake. It can seriously affect a person's quality of life through being physically uncomfortable, as well as affect their confidence if it forms in a prominent place.

Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for psoriasis, and many patients will live with bouts of the disease throughout their lives. However, psoriasis does respond well to topical ointments that are applied directly to the affected areas and can be controlled by regular treatment courses. Even those that suffer from severe cases of the disease are able to find relief in topical medications like calcipotriene, which works in approximately 85 - 90 percent of cases.

Calcipotriene is often combined with a corticosteroid cream, which helps to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Calcipotriene has three brand names in the United States - Calcitrene, Dovonex and Sorilux.

Conditions treated

  • Plaque psoriasis

Type of medicine

This topical medication is available in four forms, all of which should be applied to the skin and scalp only:

  • Cream
  • Solution
  • Ointment
  • Foam

Side effects

Many patients may find that they can take this medication without any side effects at all. However, there are various different side effects that the body can be vulnerable to when taking this medication, and they range from the very mild to the severe. Some mild side effects are considered perfectly normal in the majority of cases; others may be more severe, but the benefit of taking the medication still outweighs the discomfort. Only in very rare cases do people experience very severe reactions to this medication; you should call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following. You will likely need to come off your medication straight away, and may need medical attention:

The more common side effects that you could experience include, but are not limited to the below.

  • burning sensation
  • peeling at the affected area
  • itching
  • rashes on the skin
  • irritation of the affected area
  • redness around the affected area
  • dry or flaky skin

Always be mindful of changes that you notice in your body or mind and, if in doubt, call your health care professional for advice.


The dosage of this drug that is prescribed to you by your doctor is personal and tailored towards your medical history and a number of other factors. Dosage given may be adjusted from the norm for a number of reasons, such as any other conditions you suffer from, conditions you are vulnerable to developing, other drugs you are taking, your age, weight, and gender. Your dosage may be altered if your condition is particularly severe or if it worsens.

In most cases, the average dosage of calcipotriene is a thin layer applied to the affected area once per day. If the symptoms are particularly severe, you may need to apply it twice per day. Always wash hands thoroughly before and after use, and make sure the affected area is clean and dry before application. Do not let the nozzle of the tube come into contact with the skin.

Major drug interactions

Always keep an accurate record of the names and dosages of any other medication you may be taking. This is very important when your doctor is setting your prescription of calcipotriene, as there are some drugs that you should not take together. Some drugs and substances can react with others, causing what is known as a drug interaction. These interactions can range in severity - from those that cause mild reactions to those that cause major and dangerous side effects. Taking some drugs with others can also cause one or both drugs to become ineffective, or they could even make your conditions worse.

There are 136 drugs that have some kind of a reaction with calcipotriene. The severity of these drugs' interactions with calcipotriene may vary, but you should generally avoid combining them:

  • abaloparatide
  • alendronate, cholecalciferol
  • aliskiren, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide
  • aliskiren, hydrochlorothiazide
  • aluminum hydroxide, aspirin, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide
  • aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, simethicone
  • amiloride, hydrochlorothiazide
  • amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, olmesartan
  • amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, valsartan
  • aspirin, calcium carbonate
  • atenolol, chlorthalidone
  • azilsartan medoxomil, chlorthalidone
  • bazedoxifene, conjugated estrogens
  • benazepril, hydrochlorothiazide
  • bendroflumethiazide
  • bendroflumethiazide, nadolol
  • bendroflumethiazide, rauwolfia serpentina
  • benzthiazide
  • bisoprolol, hydrochlorothiazide
  • calcifediol
  • calcitriol
  • calcium acetate
  • calcium acetate, magnesium carbonate
  • calcium carbonate
  • calcium carbonate, famotidine, magnesium hydroxide
  • calcium carbonate, fluoride
  • calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate
  • calcium carbonate, magnesium chloride
  • calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide
  • calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, simethicone
  • calcium carbonate, melatonin, pyridoxine
  • calcium carbonate, psyllium
  • calcium carbonate, risedronate
  • calcium carbonate, simethicone
  • calcium chloride
  • calcium citrate
  • calcium glubionate
  • calcium gluceptate
  • calcium gluconate
  • calcium glycerophosphate
  • calcium glycerophosphate, calcium lactate
  • calcium lactate
  • calcium phosphate, tribasic
  • calcium, ferrous fumarate, vitamin d
  • calcium, folic acid, ginger, pyridoxine
  • calcium, vitamin d
  • candesartan, hydrochlorothiazide
  • captopril, hydrochlorothiazide
  • chlorothiazide
  • chlorothiazide, methyldopa
  • chlorothiazide, reserpine
  • chlorotrianisene
  • chlorthalidone
  • chlorthalidone, clonidine
  • chlorthalidone, reserpine
  • cholecalciferol
  • cholecalciferol, folic acid
  • cholecalciferol, genistein, zinc chelazome
  • cholecalciferol, genistein, zinc glycinate
  • cholecalciferol, iron polysaccharide
  • cholecalciferol, lactobacillus reuteri
  • conjugated estrogens
  • conjugated estrogens topical
  • conjugated estrogens, medroxyprogesterone
  • conjugated estrogens, meprobamate
  • conjugated estrogens, methyltestosterone
  • dehydroepiandrosterone
  • deserpidine, hydrochlorothiazide
  • deserpidine, methyclothiazide
  • dienestrol topical
  • dienogest, estradiol
  • diethylstilbestrol
  • dihydrotachysterol
  • doxercalciferol
  • drospirenone, estradiol
  • enalapril, hydrochlorothiazide
  • eprosartan, hydrochlorothiazide
  • ergocalciferol
  • esterified estrogens
  • esterified estrogens, methyltestosterone
  • estradiol
  • estradiol topical
  • estradiol, levonorgestrel
  • estradiol, medroxyprogesterone
  • estradiol, norethindrone
  • estradiol, norethindrone topical
  • estradiol, norgestimate
  • estradiol, testosterone
  • estramustine
  • estrone
  • estropipate
  • estropipate topical
  • fluoxymesterone
  • fosinopril, hydrochlorothiazide
  • guanethidine, hydrochlorothiazide
  • hydralazine, hydrochlorothiazide
  • hydralazine, hydrochlorothiazide, reserpine
  • hydrochlorothiazide
  • hydrochlorothiazide, irbesartan
  • hydrochlorothiazide, lisinopril
  • hydrochlorothiazide, losartan
  • hydrochlorothiazide, methyldopa
  • hydrochlorothiazide, metoprolol
  • hydrochlorothiazide, moexipril
  • hydrochlorothiazide, olmesartan
  • hydrochlorothiazide, propranolol
  • hydrochlorothiazide, quinapril
  • hydrochlorothiazide, reserpine
  • hydrochlorothiazide, spironolactone
  • hydrochlorothiazide, telmisartan
  • hydrochlorothiazide, timolol
  • hydrochlorothiazide, triamterene
  • hydrochlorothiazide, valsartan
  • hydroflumethiazide
  • hydroflumethiazide, reserpine
  • indapamide
  • methyclothiazide
  • methyclothiazide, reserpine
  • methyltestosterone
  • metolazone
  • nandrolone
  • oxandrolone
  • oxymetholone
  • parathyroid hormone
  • paricalcitol
  • polythiazide
  • polythiazide, prazosin
  • polythiazide, reserpine
  • quinestrol
  • reserpine, trichlormethiazide
  • stanozolol
  • teriparatide
  • testolactone
  • testosterone
  • testosterone topical
  • trichlormethiazide

If you are in doubt about which other medications you are taking, tell your doctor as much as you know. Your doctor should be able to work out what you are taking and help you identify the best course of treatment going forward.



People that suffer from Hypercalcemia should not take this drug. Always tell your doctor if you have a history of this condition. You may also be at a heightened risk of developing this condition while taking calcipotriene, and you should notify a doctor if you notice any symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, metallic taste in the mouth, muscle pain, irritability, cramps or bone pain.


Always tell your doctor if you have any allergies - particularly allergies to drugs that are similar to calcipotriene. Also, your doctor will want to know what else gives you an allergic reaction, including adverse reactions to other medications, cats and dogs, foods, preservatives, dust or pollen. Patients who suffer from psoriasis can be vulnerable to developing other skin conditions as a result of allergic reactions, so be especially mindful of any allergies that have affected your skin in the past.

Other conditions and illnesses

If you are suffering from any other conditions or diseases, these could affect your suitability for a prescription of calcipotriene. This is because - like with other drugs - there are some conditions that can cause an interaction with calcipotriene. On the other hand, there are some conditions that can be aggravated by taking calcipotriene, or can develop as a result of the drug. Make sure you tell your doctor what you are suffering from, and also what you are vulnerable to developing before you receive a prescription.

Conditions to be particularly cautious of are below. If you have any of these conditions, your doctor may recommend you a different course of treatment:

  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Ocular Toxicities
  • Diabetes
  • Infections
  • Diaper Rash

Missed doses

Calcipotriene is most effective when patients stick to the dosage that is prescribed to them by their doctors. If you miss one dose, just take the medication when you remember. However, you should not attempt to double your dose, or increase it to make up for missed administrations. If you miss more than one dose in a row, contact your doctor for advice on what to do.


Keep your medication in the tube with which it was supplied, and always keep it out of the sight and reach of children. Keep it away from heat and direct light sources, and always keep it in dry conditions (e.g. not in your bathroom). Do not freeze or refrigerate your medication; instead, keep it at room temperature.


You should always take proper care to dispose of medicines in the safest possible way. If you find that there is some medication left after taking your course of calcipotriene, you should contact your local take-back scheme as a first choice. Have a look at the FDA's safe disposal website for further details of schemes in your area.

If you cannot find one of these FDA schemes in your area, you should take care to dispose of this medication properly. Do not flush it down the sink or toilet. Instead, mix the solution with an undesirable or inedible substance such as soil or cat litter, and then put it in a plastic bag that can be sealed shut. Then you can put it in your regular trash can for collection. This prevents the drug from being consumed by animals or being tampered with by children. Always take the label off your medication boxes before throwing away; this will help to protect your identity.


Calcipotriene is a highly effective for psoriasis, even in the condition's most aggressive form. Although it is not a cure for the disease, it can help those that are affected by bouts to live with and control their condition. The medication can ease the physical discomfort of the disease, as well as minimize the look of the flaky patches.

Calcipotriene can be used by a variety of patients without any side effects in the majority of cases. It is relatively safe to use by both children and older patients, provided the usage and dosage instruction are always followed. There are various studies that have shown calcipotriene to be effective in up to 90 percent of cases of psoriasis, and the topical solution can often be enough to treat the condition without any further intervention. There are also very few serious side effects experienced as a result of the medication; therefore, it is a very popular solution for those living with psoriasis.

As with any medication, it is important for patients to communicate with their doctors about any other medications they are taking, any conditions they suffer from, and any allergies they have. As calcipotriene is a topical medication used to treat a skin disease, sufferers may be particularly vulnerable to skin allergies and conditions. It is therefore also important to take note of any skin-related side effects while taking calcipotriene.

Last Reviewed:
December 22, 2017
Last Updated:
April 04, 2018