Vitamin D Based Topicals

Vitamin D derivatives come in gel, ointment, lotion and scalp solution applications. They act by encouraging normal skin cell growth and preventing the excessive growth rate that we see in psoriasis.

What are Vitamin D treatments?

Vitamin D treatments are a type of topical (applied to skin) treatment for psoriasis. Vitamin D treatments can come in ointment, lotion, gel and foam formations. They are not the same as vitamin D supplements that you might take. Topical vitamin D treatments act by slowing down the production of skin cells and having an anti-inflammatory effect. This leads to an improvements in psoriasis symptoms for some people. Vitamin D treatments are only available on prescription.

When should vitamin D treatments be used?

Vitamin D treatments are one of the first topical treatments to be prescribed to most people with psoriasis. They may be used separately, or in combination with topical steroid treatments. It is recommended that a review appointment is arranged four weeks after starting any new topical treatment (two weeks for children), so that your doctor can assess what the results of the treatment are so far, and to check if you need any help with using the treatment.

As with all topical treatments, it may take a number of weeks of use for a Vitamin D treatment to become fully effective.

How should topical vitamin D treatments be used?

Vitamin D treatments are easy to use and, when used properly, are unlikely to cause any side effects. As with all treatments, however, they should not be overused – too much topical vitamin D could interfere with the body’s absorption of calcium. It is thought that topical vitamin D can make the body more sensitive to UV light, and so people using these treatments might be advised to limit time out in the sun – check with your doctor or refer to the enclosed patient information leaflet for further advice.

It is thought that ‘active’ topical treatments, including topical vitamin D treatments, work better when the skin is well moisturised. Therefore, it is recommended that an emollient (moisturiser) should be applied and allowed to sink in about half an hour before using a topical vitamin D treatment.

Types of topical vitamin D treatments

There are four vitamin D treatments available in the UK – calcipotriol (Dovonex), calcitriol (Silkis) and tacalcitol (Curatoderm), and a calcipotriol and steroid combination treatment that comes in different formulations (Dovobet and Enstilar). More information about each of these treatments can be found on our vitamin D information sheet.


The information on this page is also available in our vitamin D information sheet

November 2017 (Review Date: November 2020)

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