Non-Steroidal

Non-Steroidal Topical Treatments

Non-steroidal topical treatments are treatments that contain ingredients other than steroids. Often, these prescription treatments contain active or synthetic vitamin D3, a vitamin A derivative, or anthralin. There are a variety of reasons why your health care provider may recommend a non-steroidal topical treatment, including the degree of your psoriasis severity and its location.

Anthralin

Anthralin is a man-made version of a natural substance found in goa powder, which is from the araroba tree. It works by slowing down the growth of skin cells. It is FDA approved for use in stable, scalp psoriasis in those over the age of 12.

To prevent discoloration of fingernails, apply this medication using plastic gloves. After using this medicine, rinse hands right away with lukewarm water, then wash with soap and warm water.

Dovonex (Calcipotriene)

Calcipotriene is a form of synthetic vitamin D3 that is formulated to slow skin cell growth, flatten lesions and remove scale. It also can be used to treat psoriasis on the scalp and nails.

The most common side effects of calcipotriene are skin irritation, stinging and burning. Less common side effects include dry skin, peeling, rash, dermatitis and worsening of psoriasis.

There is another topical treatment, Taclonex, which is a calcipotriene combined with a steroid.

Tazorec (Tazarotene)

Tazarotene is a vitamin A derivative, topical retinoid used to slow skin cell growth. It is normal for psoriasis plaques to become very red before clearing when using tazarotene. The redness is often intense in color, but it is generally not painful.

The most common side effects are skin irritation, dry skin and increased susceptibility to sunburn. Use a sunscreen and wear sun-protective clothing when using tazarotene. Check with your health care provider if you experience discomfort, burning, itching or stinging.

Vectical (Calcitriol)

Calcitriol is a naturally occurring active form of vitamin D3. Studies have shown that it can help control excessive skin cell production. Calcitriol can be applied to most places on the body except for the face, lips and eyes.

The most common side effects are excessive calcium in urine, itching and skin discomfort. There is an increased chance of skin tumors due to sensitivity to light. An extremely uncommon side effect is that changes in the limits of calcium metabolism may occur. If this does happen, treatment should be stopped until the levels of calcium return to normal.

Have more questions about whether a topical treatment is for you? Your health care provider can help make this determination, as well as create a treatment plan.

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Last updated 10/08/20 by the National Psoriasis Foundation.

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