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What is diclofenac?

Diclofenac (also called Voltaren®) is a man-made steroid that works like a steroid made by the adrenal gland in your body. This medicine has several uses:

  • To relieve inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain), especially in joints
  • To relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis
  • To treat certain skin diseases caused by excessive UV rays (from the sun or tanning)

Diclofenac is applied to the skin and is available as a 1 percent topical gel.

Possible side effects of diclofenac

Many of these side effects happen only at the application site.

  • Itching skin
  • Rash
  • Dry skin
  • Skin peeling
  • Redness on the skin
  • Tingling feeling on skin
  • Headache
  • Indigestion (upset stomach)
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Acne

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to your health care team. In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 901-595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.

Special instructions for diclofenac

  • The diclofenac gel may take up to 12 hours to provide the most relief of symptoms.
  • Diclofenac can hide a fever. Watch for signs of infection. Tell the doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you see such signs. Refer to the hand out “Do you know… The signs of infection.”
  • Wash your face 2 times a day with soap and water to decrease the chance that temporary acne will develop.
  • Discard after the expiration date printed on the label.
  • Do not apply topical gel to the eyes, mucous membranes (mouth, inside nose), open wounds, or infected areas.
  • Wash hands before and after use.
  • Wash the area of skin to be treated.
  • Use the dosing card supplied with product to measure the correct amount of medicine. Then apply the gel to the clean dry skin. Rub the medicine gently into the skin until it has been absorbed.
  • Avoid occlusive (air-tight and water-tight) dressings and avoid applying heat to the treated area.
  • Avoid direct sunlight on your skin when you are using topical diclofenac. Your skin will burn more easily.
  • Store topical diclofenac gel at room temperature in a dry place.
  • Diclofenac may affect the way some medicines work. Some medicines may also affect the way diclofenac works. These medicines include the following:
    • Methotrexate
    • Celebrex® (celecoxib)
    • Cyclosporine
    • Prozac® (fluoxetine)
    • Celexa® (citalopram)
    • Paxil® (paroxetine)
    • Zoloft® (sertraline)
    • Tenofovir (alafenamide or disoproxil fumarate)
    • Prograf® (tacrolimus)
    • Some blood pressure medicines
    • Some anticoagulant medicines

Always tell your health care team if you are taking any of these medicines or if you start taking any new medicine while you are using topical diclofenac.

  • Always check with your pharmacist to obtain the Medication Guide for NSAIDs every time you pick up your topical diclofenac.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).