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How does topical vitamin D treat psoriasis?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Topical vitamin D is a synthetic form of the vitamin that is applied directly to the skin. It treats psoriasis by slowing the growth of skin cells. Common forms are calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux) and calcitriol (Vectical). Products that combine calcipotriene and the corticosteroid betamethasone in an ointment or liquid (Taclonex) or foam (Enstilar) are also available.

Some experts consider topical vitamin D treatments to be first-line therapy. They can be used alone, but are often combined with other medications. They can also be used for psoriasis on the scalp. Calcitriol is less irritating than calcipotriene, so it may be better for psoriasis on the face or areas where skin rubs against skin, such as armpits. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.