Dovonex (Calcipotriene)

A Vitamin D Cream for Psoriasis

Dermatologist. Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

Dovonex (Calcipotriene) was created to fill the need of a drug that would suppress rapid skin cell growth (as seen in psoriasis) without upsetting normal calcium metabolism, similar to the way natural vitamin D does.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.

 Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting (chronic) disease. There may be times when your psoriasis symptoms get better alternating with times your psoriasis worsens.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following:

  • Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, burning or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission.

Dovonex (Calcipotriene)

Calcipotriene is available as a cream and scalp liquid under the brand name Dovonex. A combination ointment of calcipotriene with a steroid cream is marketed under the name Taclonex.

Dovonex works slowly and the cream version is relatively weak. Studies have shown it to be as effective as a strong steroid cream. Nevertheless, it has a valuable role in treating psoriasis in that it has none of the side effects typically expected with the prolonged use of steroid creams. It is sometimes not recommended for use on the face since it can cause redness.

How is Calcipotriene Used?

Dovonex can be applied twice daily, and results are usually seen around 4 to 6 weeks into treatment. It can be used continuously and is safe for patients who have psoriasis on up to 20 percent of their body. It can be combined with other treatments, including topical steroids and phototherapy.

When to see a doctor

If you suspect that you may have psoriasis, see your doctor for an examination. Also, talk to your doctor if your psoriasis:

  • Progresses beyond the nuisance stage, causing you discomfort and pain
  • Makes performing routine tasks difficult
  • Causes you concern about the appearance of your skin
  • Leads to joint problems, such as pain, swelling or inability to perform daily tasks

Seek medical advice if your signs and symptoms worsen or don't improve with treatment. You may need a different medication or a combination of treatments to manage the psoriasis.


Camisa C. Handbook of Psoriasis, 2nd Ed. Blackwell Publishing, USA 2004

Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis.

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