Topical treatments in psoriasis: today and tomorrow

Topical therapy in psoriasis is of use in mild cases. It is also applied as an adjunct to phototherapy and systemic treatments in moderate to severe cases. Long-established pharmaceuticals such as cignolin, tar preparations, and glucocorticoids are still in use. Newer topical agents such as vitamin A and D derivatives are gradually replacing them. Combining a vitamin D derivative and a strong glucocorticoid now seems to be the most efficient way to treat psoriasis when topical agents are indicated.

There is a growing list of “alternative” treatment options, where evidence is generally absent. Rewarding investments should perhaps be directed at intervening with molecules of innate immunity. Superfluous activation of natural immune system cascades is now in view as the major culprit in psoriasis, replacing the T-cell hypothesis of the disease. Agents directed at tumor necrosis factor α, Toll-like receptors, and neutrophils may have great impact in future topical therapy of psoriasis.

Finally, innovations in the development of more targeted glucocorticoids and vitamin A and D derivatives, where desired effects are better separated from undesired side effects, may lead to an increased benefit/risk ratio of these nuclear receptor–directed therapies.