Author(s): Lebwohl M, Menter A, Koo J, Feldman SR
Abstract Share this page
Abstract In patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis, remission can be difficult to achieve and sustain. Both acutely acting and long-term maintenance agents are needed. Speed and efficiency of available monotherapies tend to be inversely proportional to safety. Combination, rotational, and sequential approaches are often more effective and safer than single-agent therapy. Combining agents with complementary adverse effect profiles is preferable. Apparent synergistic enhancement is seen with most paired combinations of the four major therapies: acitretin, phototherapy (ultraviolet B/psoralen plus ultraviolet A), cyclosporine, and methotrexate. Of those, only cyclosporine in combination with psoralen plus ultraviolet A is contraindicated because of increased cancer risk. Combinations of each of those major therapies with topical agents (retinoids, steroids, vitamin D derivatives, and others) have been used with varying efficacy and safety. The immunomodulators, hydroxyurea and thioguanine, have also shown some success in combination therapy. The new biologic agents with their novel modes of action and adverse effect profiles may prove to be important adjuncts in combination/rotational/sequential approaches. In some cases, monotherapy (with either systemic agents or phototherapy) adequately controls moderate to severe disease. A regimen using a single agent has the advantages of lower cost and greater adherence by the patient. For any number of reasons, however, including loss of efficacy, adverse effects, or cumulative or acute toxicity-and especially the inability to clear resistant lesions-a single modality will not be adequate. Using two or more therapies is thus the rule rather than the exception for most patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis, but picking a combination that serves to balance safety and efficacy needs careful consideration, especially since no evidence-based treatment guidelines exist.
This article was published in J Am Acad Dermatol
and referenced in Dermatology Case Reports