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Diclofenac Sodium Topical gel

What is this medicine?

DICLOFENAC (dye KLOE fen ak) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The 1% skin gel is used to treat osteoarthritis of the hands or knees. The 3% skin gel is used to treat actinic keratosis.

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for external use only. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Wash hands before and after use. Do not get this medicine in your eyes. If you do, rinse out with plenty of cool tap water. Use your doses at regular intervals. Do not use your medicine more often than directed.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill of the 1% gel. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed. The 3% gel is not approved for use in children.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • black or bloody stools, blood in the urine or vomit

  • blurred vision

  • chest pain

  • difficulty breathing or wheezing

  • nausea or vomiting

  • redness, blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth

  • slurred speech or weakness on one side of the body

  • trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine

  • unexplained weight gain or swelling

  • unusually weak or tired

  • yellowing of eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • dizziness

  • dry skin

  • headache

  • heartburn

  • increased sensitivity to the sun

  • stomach pain

  • tingling at the application site

What may interact with this medicine?

  • aspirin

  • NSAIDs, medicines for pain and inflammation, like ibuprofen or naproxen

Do not use any other skin products without telling your doctor or health care professional.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the 1% gel at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Store the 3% gel at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Protect from light. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • asthma

  • bleeding problems

  • coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery within the past 2 weeks

  • heart disease

  • high blood pressure

  • if you frequently drink alcohol containing drinks

  • kidney disease

  • liver disease

  • open or infected skin

  • stomach problems

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to diclofenac, aspirin, other NSAIDs, other medicines, benzyl alcohol (3% gel only), foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

  • breast-feeding

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Tell your doctor or healthcare professional if your symptoms do not start to get better or if they get worse. You will need to follow up with your health care provider to monitor your progress. You may need to be treated for up to 3 months if you are using the 3% gel, but the full effect may not occur until 1 month after stopping treatment. If you develop a severe skin reaction, contact your doctor or health care professional immediately.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.

Do not take medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen with this medicine. Side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, or ulcers may be more likely to occur. Many medicines available without a prescription should not be taken with this medicine.

This medicine does not prevent heart attack or stroke. In fact, this medicine may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke. The chance may increase with longer use of this medicine and in people who have heart disease. If you take aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke, talk with your doctor or health care professional.

This medicine can cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines at any time during treatment. Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. These increase irritation to your stomach and can make it more susceptible to damage from this medicine. Ulcers and bleeding can happen without warning symptoms and can cause death.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells.

This medicine can cause you to bleed more easily. Try to avoid damage to your teeth and gums when you brush or floss your teeth.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 4/20/2009
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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