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Established Treatments of Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a complex disease with a spectrum of clinical manifestations. Psoriasis may express as a few coin-sized erythemato-squamous plaques up to widespread disease covering the entire body surface (erythrodermic psoriasis). Psoriasis may present as a few stable plaques or unstable disease, rapidly relapsing after treatment. Some patients may respond excellently to topical treatments whereas other patients may be difficult to manage, showing treatment resistance even to the systemic treatments. Therefore, a spectrum of treatments is available to individualize care of psoriasis. In this chapter the available treatments are presented. The vast majority of patients is treated with topical treatments, with vitamin D3 analogs and topical corticosteroids as the first line treatments. Tazarotene is an alternative for vitamin D3 treatment if this treatment fails. In some special cases, dithranol and tar treatment may be used. Phototherapy with UVB and photochemotherapy (PUVA) are indicated in patients not responding sufficiently to topical treatment. However, chronic exposure, in particular to photochemotherapy implies an increased risk for photo- carcinogenicity. Systemic treatments including methotrexate, cyclosporin, acitretin and fumarates are indicated in patients who cannot be managed with topical treatments or phototherapy, either for treatment resistance or cumulative toxicity. In this article the opportunities and limitations of the available treatments are presented.
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Keywords: erythemato-squamous plaques; erythrodermic psoriasis; photochemotherapy; phototherapy; psoriasis; vitamin d3 analogs

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, University Medical Centre St. Radboud, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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