Which medications in the drug class Topical Retinoids are used in the treatment of Psoriasis?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021
  • Author: Jacquiline Habashy, DO, MSc; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Topical Retinoids

Aqueous gel formulations are odorless and colorless, and no long-term skin damage has been noted with topical retinoids. There is also no threat of worsening if the therapy is withdrawn, as with steroids. These drugs should not be used in women if pregnancy is a possibility.

Tazarotene (Tazorac Fabior, Avage)

Tazarotene is a retinoid prodrug that is converted to its active form in the body and modulates differentiation and proliferation of epithelial tissue and perhaps has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. It may be the drug of choice for those with facial lesions who are not at risk of pregnancy.

Tazarotene, although topical, is a category X medication. Topical tretinoin is of less use in psoriatic patients. A strategy that may be tried in patients who experience unacceptable irritation is to use short contact times. There are several protocols, but the least irritating is to apply the medication for 15-20 min and then wash off. The total time on may be increased by 15-20 minutes every few weeks until clinical efficacy or adverse cutaneous effects are seen. This short-contact method may be especially useful when one is using it in skin folds but is less effective for the plaque with very thick scale.

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