Topical Treatments for Psoriasis

Psoriasis Topical Treatments

Coal Tar
Perhaps you remember the commercial for Tegrin, a shampoo for the "heartbreak of psoriasis". It is a coal tar preparation. Historically, coal tar used topically has success in relieving, reducing, and minimizing the itching and scaling in minor cases. It can be found in "medicated" shampoos or as a bath solution for soaking. Coal tar, depending on the strength, can be obtained as an over-the-counter product (OTC), or by prescription.

Exorex™ is a over-the-counter preparation. The active ingredient in the Exorex Penetrating Emulsion is 1% coal tar. The company recommends using various related products for the face, scalp, and body, to keep the lesions supple.

Coal tar can make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet and sunlight. This is important to remember for psoriasis patients with mild cases that are using coal tar products without the supervision of a doctor! You may be more susceptible to sunburn. Be sure to consider this when sun bathing, using a tanning booth, or receiving UV light therapy.

Common complaints about coal tar ointments are: they are messy, have an unpleasant medicinal odor, and can stain the skin and clothing.

Coal tar can also cause photosensitivity.

Topical Steroids
One of the most common therapies used for mild to moderate psoriasis, topical steroids can be over the counter or prescription strength. A physician should monitor long term use of cortisone steroids. Steroids can cause thinning of the skin, and the body can become resistant, making this an ineffective therapy. Steroids are not recommended for use on the face.

Anthralin is a chemical that is also used in some dyes. It is only available by prescription. It can be combined with prescription steroids, coal tar and moisturizers to create a treatment regime. Anthralin has been known to irritate the skin surrounding psoriasis lesions, stains anything it comes into contact with, but has few side effects.

Photosensitivity is also a concern if mixed with other
psoriatic preparations. Should not be used by pregnant

Vitamin D3
Also known as Dovonex, this synthetic vitamin D3 ointment is non-staining and is used for moderate cases of psoriasis. Dovonex is available only by prescription. There are few known side effects. It cannot be used on the face. There is cost factor to this approach. It may be several weeks before seeing improvement and the lesions will reappear when use is discontinued.

Photosensitivity can be heightened. Pregnant woman should avoid using this product.

Topical Retinoid Therapy
Tazarotene (Tazorac) is a FDA approved retinoid. Retinoids are drugs related to vitamin A. Tazorac is available only by prescription. It should be applied only to the affected areas. Avoid contact to the eyes, eyelids, and mouth. THIS MEDICATION SHOULD BE AVOIDED OR DISCONTINUED IMMEDIATELY IN PREGNANT WOMAN. Exposure to sunlight should be avoided. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Don't use this product with other photosensitizes.