Treatment of severe scalp psoriasis: From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation

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Abstract

Background

The scalp is the most commonly affected part of the body in patients with psoriasis. Signs and symptoms of scalp psoriasis vary significantly for individual patients.

Objective

A task force of the National Psoriasis Foundation was convened to evaluate treatment options. Our aim was to achieve a consensus for scalp psoriasis therapy.

Methods

Reports in the medical literature were reviewed regarding scalp psoriasis therapy.

Limitations

There is a paucity of evidence-based and double-blind studies in the treatment of scalp psoriasis particularly for long-term therapy. Many of the studies in scalp psoriasis were designed to attain Food and Drug Administration approval for a medication and not to provide treatment guidance.

Conclusions

The recommended short-term or intermittent therapy for scalp psoriasis is topical corticosteroids. The primary alternatives are topical retinoids, vitamin D analogues, and salicylic acid. Combination therapy has many advantages. The choice of an appropriate vehicle is crucial to increase patient compliance. While scalp psoriasis can often be adequately treated with topical therapy, recalcitrant disease may require more aggressive approaches, including systemic agents.

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