Emollients (ointments / creams) used in psoriasis
Anthralin has been used in the treatment of psoriasis since the late 1980s. It is preferably used in the therapy of psoriasis vulgaris. Anthralin is not meant to be used for severe outbreaks of psoriasis as it can worsen its symptoms.
Anthralin slows down the excessive cell division and helps reduce scaling.
The use of anthralin should be avoided on sensitive body areas, ie. on the face because it has a strong effect on the skin. Ointments for psoriasis usually contain a combination of anthralin and salicylic acid. Common side effects include itching and irritation, so it is important to apply lubricating emollients to the skin after the anthralin is washed off. Transient dark purple-brown skin discolourations can develop on the skin after anthralin-based therapy.
Patients must be aware that the use of anthralin may leave marks on the skin. For better results, anthralin can be combined with phototherapy or corticosteroids.
Vitamin D3 analogues
Coal tar has been used in the treatment of psoriasis since ancient times. Formulas used in psoriasis are made of a coal tar by-product obtained from long-term distillation of hard coal and various species of wood. Coal tar preparations are currently available as creams, ointments, shampoos, or soap, which is typically black and has an unpleasant odour. Coal tar treatment is used for psoriasis, eczema, seborrhoeic skin, or dandruff. Coal tar was recently found to be carcinogenic, although it was not confirmed in any studies. However, it has been banned from use in some countries. Coal tar was also confirmed to cause sensitivity to light, including sunlight, and irritation of the scalp.
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives used in the management of psoriasis. Retinoid-based formulas are available as gels, creams, or solutions for topical application. Retinoids are immunomodulating agents that reduce inflammation and epidermal proliferation. The most common side effect of retinoids is irritation. Retinoids can be harmful to an unborn child and are contraindicated during pregnancy and in women who plan to become pregnancy within 2 years after discontinuation of therapy. In men, using retinoids for psoriasis was not confirmed to have any effects on progeny. Tazarotene has been used in the management of psoriasis. To get the best possible outcome, tazarotene is combined with UVB phototherapy or vitamin D3 derivatives.