What is the role of phototherapy in the management of guttate psoriasis?

Updated: Oct 03, 2019
  • Author: Kirstin Altman, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

The clearance of guttate lesions can be accelerated by judicious exposure to sunlight or by a short course of either broadband ultraviolet B (UV-B) or narrow-band UV-B phototherapy. [54, 55, 56] Koek et al reported that UV-B phototherapy administered to psoriasis patients in home-based setting was as effective as that administered as an outpatient treatment, with significantly lower patient burden. [57]

More resistant cases may benefit from oral psoralen plus exposure to ultraviolet A radiation (PUVA). The suit PUVA technique has been used in this setting. [54]

Aside from the usual mechanisms by which UV light is believed to exert its beneficial effects in psoriasis, a specific fibrosing response to PUVA via increased mast cell activation has been observed in guttate psoriasis and might underlie the mechanism of action behind UV-induced resolution of the lesions.

However, considering the developments in photomedicine over the last several years, particularly regarding the clinical efficacy of narrowband UV-B phototherapy, versus the risk of cutaneous malignancies with PUVA, treatment with narrowband UV-B is favored over treatment with PUVA.

Guidelines on the management and treatment of psoriasis with phototherapy were released in September 2019 by the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Psoriasis Foundation. [58]

Narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy

Phototherapy using narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) is recommended as monotherapy for adults with plaque psoriasis.

For adults with generalized plaque psoriasis, the recommended NB-UVB phototherapy starting dose should be based on the minimal erythema dose or it should be determined based on a fixed-dose or skin-phototype protocol.

For adults with generalized plaque psoriasis, a treatment phase of thrice-weekly dosing of NB-UVB phototherapy is recommended.

For adults with psoriasis, treatment with short-term psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) monotherapy is more effective than NB-UVB.

Owing to its increased safety, higher convenience, and lower cost, NB-UVB is preferred over PUVA monotherapy for psoriasis in adults, even though it is less effective.

In adults with generalized plaque psoriasis, NB-UVB is recommended over broadband ultraviolet B (BB-UVB) monotherapy.

Treatment with NB-UVB monotherapy is recommended for guttate psoriasis patients, regardless of their age.

For appropriate patients with generalized plaque psoriasis, home-based NB-UVB phototherapy is recommended as an alternative to in-office NB-UVB phototherapy.

Treatment with NB-UVB phototherapy is recommended for pregnant patients who have guttate psoriasis or generalized plaque psoriasis.

As a measure to possibly improve efficacy, NB-UVB phototherapy can be safely augmented with concomitant topical therapy using retinoids, vitamin D analogues, and corticosteroids.

Oral retinoids can be combined with NB-UVB phototherapy in appropriate patients with generalized plaque psoriasis if they have not responded adequately to monotherapy.

Owing to an increased risk of developing skin cancer, long-term combination therapy with NB-UVB and cyclosporine is not recommended for adults with generalized plaque psoriasis.

Apremilast combined with NB-UVB phototherapy can be considered for adult patients with generalized plaque psoriasis if they have not responded adequately to monotherapy.

To reduce the risk of genital skin cancer, all patients receiving NB-UVB phototherapy should be provided genital shielding.

To reduce the risk of ocular toxicity, all patients receiving NB-UVB phototherapy should be provided eye protection with goggles.

Owing to the risk of photocarcinogenesis, use caution when administering NB-UVB phototherapy to patients with a history of melanoma or multiple nonmelanoma skin cancers, arsenic intake, or prior exposure to ionizing radiation.

Folate supplementation is recommended for females of childbearing age who are receiving NB-UVB phototherapy.

To maintain the clinical response from NB-UVB phototherapy, maintenance therapy can be considered.

BB-UVB phototherapy

In adults with generalized plaque psoriasis, BB-UVB phototherapy is recommended as monotherapy if NB-UVB is not available.

In adults with generalized plaque psoriasis, BB-UVB monotherapy is considered less efficacious than NB-UVB or oral PUVA monotherapy.

Monotherapy with BB-UVB may be considered for adults with guttate psoriasis.

To reduce the risk of genital skin cancer, all patients being offered BB-UVB phototherapy should be provided with genital shielding.

To reduce the risk of ocular toxicity, all patients receiving BB-UVB phototherapy should be provided eye protection with goggles.

Owing to the risk of photocarcinogenesis, use caution when administering BB-UVB phototherapy to patients with a history of melanoma or multiple nonmelanoma skin cancers, arsenic intake, or prior exposure to ionizing radiation.

Combination therapy with acitretin and BB-UVB can be considered in adults with generalized plaque psoriasis.

Targeted UVB phototherapy

The recommended targeted UVB phototherapy for adults with localized plaque psoriasis (<10% body surface area), for individual plaque psoriasis lesions, or for patients with more extensive disease includes excimer 308-nm laser, excimer 308-nm light, and targeted NB-UVB 311- to 313-nm light.

 

For maximal efficacy, the recommended treatment frequency for targeted UVB phototherapy in adults with localized plaque psoriasis is 2-3 times per week, rather than once every 1-2 weeks.

In adults with localized plaque psoriasis, the initial dose of targeted UVB phototherapy is based on the minimal erythema dose or by a fixed-dose or skin-phototype protocol.

For treating localized plaque psoriasis in adults, the most effective targeted UVB phototherapy is excimer 308-nm laser, followed by excimer 308-nm light, followed by localized NB-UVB 311- to 312-nm light.

For adults with plaque psoriasis (including palmoplantar psoriasis), a recommended targeted UVB phototherapy includes excimer 308-nm laser and excimer 308-nm light.

Treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults with excimer 308-nm laser may be combined with topical steroid therapy.

A recommended targeted UVB phototherapy treatment for adults with scalp psoriasis is excimer 308-nm laser.

PUVA therapy

In the treatment of localized plaque psoriasis in adults, particularly those with palmoplantar psoriasis or palmoplantar pustular psoriasis, topical phototherapy with PUVA is deemed superior to NB-UVB 311- to 313-nm light.

A recommended treatment for psoriasis in adults is oral PUVA.

A recommended treatment for moderate-to-severe psoriasis in adults is bath PUVA.

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy with either aminolevulinic acid or methyl aminolevulinate is not recommended for adults with localized psoriasis, including the palmoplantar variety or nail psoriasis.

Grenz ray, climatotherapy, visible light, Goeckerman, and pulsed-dye laser therapies

Evidence is insufficient to recommend grenz ray therapy (long-wavelength ionizing radiation) for the treatment of psoriasis.

Sufficient evidence exists to recommend climatotherapy (temporary or permanent relocation geographically) for the treatment of psoriasis.

Evidence is insufficient to recommend the use of visible light (blue or red) as a more effective treatment for psoriasis, except in nail psoriasis.

Sufficient evidence exists to recommend Goeckerman therapy (coal tar in combination with UVB phototherapy) for the treatment of psoriasis.

Pulsed-dye laser can be considered for nail psoriasis.


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