Diclofenac (Topical)

Adult Medication

Brand Names: US

Flector; Pennsaid; Rexaphenac; Solaraze; Voltaren

Brand Names: Canada

Pennsaid; Voltaren Emulgel


  • This drug may raise the chance of very bad and sometimes deadly heart and blood vessel side effects like heart attack and stroke. The risk may be greater if you have heart disease or risks for heart disease. However, the risk may also be raised in people who do not have heart disease or risks for heart disease. The risk of these health problems can happen as soon as the first weeks of using this drug and may be greater with higher doses or with long-term use. Do not use this drug right before or after bypass heart surgery.
  • This drug may raise the chance of very bad and sometimes deadly stomach or bowel side effects like ulcers or bleeding. The risk may be greater in older people. This may occur without warning signs. Talk with the doctor.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat a precancerous skin problem called actinic keratosis.
  • It is used to ease pain and swelling.
  • It is used to treat arthritis.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you have an allergy to diclofenac or any other part of this drug.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have kidney disease.
  • If you are more than 24 weeks pregnant.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

All products:

  • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other doctors that you use this drug.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • High blood pressure has happened with drugs like this one. Have your blood pressure checked as you have been told by your doctor.
  • If you smoke, talk with your doctor.
  • If you have asthma, talk with your doctor. You may be more sensitive to this drug.
  • Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol.
  • Do not use on skin that has any problems.
  • Do not use more than told. Unsafe side effects may happen.
  • Do not use longer than you have been told by the doctor.
  • Avoid sunlight on treated area.
  • The chance of heart failure is raised with the use of drugs like this one. In people who already have heart failure, the chance of heart attack, having to go to the hospital for heart failure, and death is raised. Talk with the doctor.
  • The chance of heart attack and heart-related death is raised in people taking drugs like this one after a recent heart attack. People taking drugs like this one after a first heart attack were also more likely to die in the year after the heart attack compared with people not taking drugs like this one. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you are taking aspirin to help prevent a heart attack, talk with your doctor.
  • This drug may cause harm if swallowed. If this drug is swallowed, call a doctor or poison control center right away.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This drug may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using this drug while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

3% gel:

  • Do not give to a child. Talk with your doctor.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

All products:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or blurred eyesight.
  • Very bad skin irritation.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.

3% gel:

  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.

All other products:

  • Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in the amount of urine passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Any bruising or bleeding.
  • Very bad belly pain.
  • Very bad back pain.
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Very bad headache.
  • Very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Flu-like signs.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
  • Skin irritation.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

All products:

  • Do not take this drug by mouth. Use on your skin only. Keep out of your mouth, nose, and eyes (may burn).
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Clean affected part before use. Make sure to dry well.

Cream and gel:

  • Put a thin layer on the affected skin and rub in gently.
  • Do not use sunscreen, insect repellant, or other drugs on affected part.
  • If putting this drug on the hand, do not wash your hands for at least 1 hour after putting on.
  • Do not use heat or bandages on the treated part.
  • Let the drug dry before you cover it with clothes or gloves.
  • Do not bathe, shower, or swim for 1 hour after putting on.
  • Do not use on open wounds or infected skin.
  • If you get this drug in your eyes, wash right away with water. If you have eye irritation that lasts or a change in eyesight, call your doctor.

Skin patch:

  • Put patch on clean, dry, healthy skin.
  • Do not put on cuts, scrapes, eczema, or damaged skin.
  • Do not bathe, shower, or swim after putting on.
  • If the patch falls off, put a new one on.
  • If the patch loosens, put tape over it to hold it in place.

Skin solution:

  • Put on clean, dry, healthy skin.
  • Use 10 drops at a time. Repeat until a total of 40 drops has been put on knee. You may put right on the knee or on the hand and then onto the knee.
  • Spread evenly on front, back, and side of knee.
  • Let dry before covering with clothing.
  • Do not bathe, shower, or swim for 30 minutes after applying.
  • You may use cosmetics, lotions, insect repellant, sunscreen, or other skin drugs after the skin has dried.
  • Do not use heat or bandages on the treated part.
  • Let the treated skin dry before touching it or letting it touch anyone else’s skin.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Put on a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not put on 2 doses or extra doses.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

All products:

  • Store at room temperature. Do not freeze.
  • Protect from light.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

3% gel:

  • Protect gel from heat.

Skin patch:

  • Store in pouch until ready for use.
  • After you take off a skin patch, be sure to fold the sticky sides of the patch to each other.
  • Throw away unused patches when they are no longer needed. Take them from the pouch, take off liner, and fold in half.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Last Reviewed Date



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Diclofenac (Topical)
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on October 13, 2015