Information for the public
Sildenafil is a type of medicine called a 'PDE5 inhibitor', which also works by widening blood vessels (but in a different way to calcium channel blockers). It is licensed in the UK for treating a rare condition called pulmonary hypertension. When someone has pulmonary hypertension their blood pressure is too high in the blood vessels in their lungs. By widening the blood vessels in the lungs, sildenafil reduces the pressure in these vessels. Sildenafil is also licensed in the UK for treating erectile dysfunction; it improves blood flow into the penis and helps with erections.
Sildenafil can be used to try and stop new digital ulcers developing and to help existing ulcers heal. It is not licensed specifically for this, and so its use in this way is called 'off‑label'. People with ulcers who are prescribed sildenafil by their doctor, usually take it 3 times daily, for a number of weeks but sometimes longer, depending on how well sildenafil works for them and how they feel while taking it.