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Diclofenac sodium

Updated 2 Feb 2023 | Photodamaged skin treatments


Gel containing 3% w/w diclofenac sodium.

Drugs List

  • diclofenac sodium 3% gel
  • SOLACUTAN 3% gel
  • SOLARAZE 3% gel
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Treatment of actinic keratoses



    Apply to the affected skin lesion(s) twice daily and smooth gently in.

    The amount needed depends on the size of the lesion. Normally, 0.5 grams (the size of a pea) of the gel is used on a 5cm x 5cm lesion site.

    The usual duration of therapy is from 60 to 90 days and maximum efficacy has been obtained at the upper end of this treatment period.

    Complete healing of the lesions or optimal therapeutic effect may not be evident for up to 30 days following cessation of therapy.

    A maximum of 8 grams daily should not be exceeded.


    Children under 18 years
    Open wounds
    Exfoliative dermatitis
    Skin infection
    Third trimester of pregnancy

    Precautions and Warnings

    Predisposition to haemorrhage
    Cardiac impairment
    First trimester of pregnancy
    Gastrointestinal haemorrhage
    Hepatic impairment
    History of gastrointestinal bleeding
    History of peptic ulcer
    Peptic ulcer
    Recent intracranial haemorrhage
    Renal impairment
    Second trimester of pregnancy

    NSAIDs may provoke or exacerbate asthma
    Contains benzyl alcohol
    Avoid contact with diseased or inflamed skin
    Avoid contact with eyes
    Avoid contact with mucous membranes
    Avoid occlusive dressings
    Breastfeeding: Do not treat the breast area if patient breastfeeding
    Not for use in open wounds
    Not to be applied to infected skin
    Prolonged use over a large area may cause systemic absorption
    Prolonged continuous use increases the risk of systemic toxicity
    Discontinue if irritation or sensitisation occur
    Discontinue if patient is attempting to conceive
    Discontinue treatment if rash occurs
    Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Diclofenac sodium is contraindicated during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy but may be used with caution during the 1st and 2nd trimester.

    The manufacturer advises if diclofenac gel is used during the first and second trimesters, the dose should be kept low, less than 30% of the body surface, and the duration of treatment as short as possible, not longer than 3 weeks. Animal studies indicate reproductive toxicity. Diclofenac is known to cross the human placenta. Diclofenac is a prostaglandin synthetase inhibitor and may have effects during the second and third trimesters, including pulmonary and cardiac toxicity in the foetus/newborn from the beginning of the sixth month and increases in risk if administration is close to full term. Other effects also include, functional renal injury in the foetus, inhibition of uterine contractions with delayed onset and prolongation of labour, increased possibility of bleeding in mother and child, and increased risk of maternal oedema formation. When used in the perinatal period, necrotising enterocolitis and intraventricular haemorrhages have been reported in very pre-term and very low birth weight infants.


    Use diclofenac sodium with caution during breastfeeding.

    The manufacturer advises that diclofenac gel should not be applied to the breast area, nor elsewhere on large areas of skin or for a prolonged period of time because this would increase the risk of oral absorption by the infant. Measurable amounts of diclofenac would not be expected in maternal milk following the recommended therapeutic dose in breastfeeding mothers.

    Side Effects

    Abdominal pain
    Angioneurotic oedema
    Application site reaction
    Bullous dermatoses
    Contact dermatitis
    Discolouration of hair
    Dry skin
    Eye pain
    Facial oedema
    Gastro-intestinal haemorrhage
    Hypersensitivity reactions
    Inflammation (application site)
    Irritation (localised)
    Lacrimation disorder
    Maculopapular rash
    Pustular rash
    Renal failure
    Scaling of skin
    Skin hypertrophy
    Skin tingling
    Skin ulcer
    Vesiculo-bullous reactions


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: September 2019

    Reference Sources

    Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment, 3rd edition (2015) ed. Schaefer, C., Peters, P. and Miller, R. Elsevier, London.

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 10th edition (2015) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia.

    Medications and Mothers' Milk, Sixteenth Edition (2014) Hale, T and Rowe, H, Hale Publishing, Plano, Texas.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Solacutan 3% gel. Mibe Pharma UK Ltd. Revised August 2018.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Solaraze 3% gel. Almirall Ltd. Revised January 2019.

    NICE Evidence Services Available at: Last accessed: 13 September 2019

    US National Library of Medicine. Toxicology Data Network. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).
    Available at:
    Diclofenac. Last revised: 31 October 2018
    Last accessed: 13 September 2019

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