Psoriasis treatment: Synthetic vitamin D
Also known as vitamin D analogues
This prescription medicine has been used in Europe since the 1990s to treat psoriasis. Later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for psoriasis.
Why dermatologists prescribe synthetic vitamin D to treat psoriasis
Synthetic vitamin D can:
Slow rapidly growing skin cells
Flatten thick psoriasis
Treat nail psoriasis
Treat scalp psoriasis
Safety and effectiveness
Synthetic vitamin D is considered safe for most patients, including children
It clears psoriasis in some patients, including patients who have scalp psoriasis
Most people notice an improvement after using it for two weeks
If a patient needs stronger medicine, synthetic vitamin D can be safely combined with a strong corticosteroid
Studies show that using both tends to be more effective than using either medication alone.
Using both synthetic vitamin D and a corticosteroid can also reduce the possible side effects that come with using a strong corticosteroid
The combination can be used for much longer than a strong corticosteroid alone
How to use
It is applied to the psoriasis. Most people apply synthetic vitamin D twice a day.
Use as directed
To avoid possible side effects, it’s important to use this medicine exactly as directed. Using it for longer than directed can lead to serious side effects.
Possible side effects
When applying synthetic vitamin D to treat psoriasis, the most common side effects are:
These side effects tend to go away as patients continue to use the medicine. Side effects that are more serious include a medical condition called hypercalcemia. This means you have too much calcium in your blood, which can weaken your bones, cause kidney stones, or affect your heart and brain. This risk is low when synthetic vitamin D is used as directed.
What to discuss with your dermatologist
During your next dermatology appointment, be sure to mention if you have any of the following:
You fail to see any change after using the medicine for four to six weeks
Cordoro KM. “Management of childhood psoriasis.” Adv Dermatol. 2008;24:125-69.
Feldman SR. “Treatment of psoriasis.” UpToDate 2015 Jul, Wolters Kluwer Health. Last accessed November 2015.
Menter A, Korman NJ, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Section 3. Guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with topical therapies.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:643-59.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Taclonex (calcipotriene and betamethasone dipropionate) ointment.” Posted December 2014. Last accessed January 2016.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from Amgen.