Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects more than 8 million Americans, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The disease arises from an abnormal immune response that triggers the rapid turnover of skin cells, causing them to pile up on the skin’s surface. Most people have a form called plaque psoriasis, where they periodically develop red, scaly patches on the skin that can be itchy and painful. For Black people, who have higher melanin, psoriasis may appear as purple patches with gray scales or a dark brown color. For lighter skin Blacks, the patches may appear similar to those on white skin. The patches can also be more widespread on black skin making it harder to distinguish psoriasis from other conditions.
However, a cream medication that eases skin inflammation might offer a safer treatment option for people with psoriasis, a clinical trial suggests.
The study tested an experimental cream medication that may bypass the side effects of current topical treatments for psoriasis.
The cream contains a drug called roflumilast, which blocks an inflammation-producing enzyme. The researchers found that among patients randomly assigned to use the cream once a day, roughly one-quarter saw their skin clear up within six weeks. That compared with eight percent of those given an inactive (“placebo”) cream.
Experts called the results “exciting” — in large part because the treatment is not expected to cause the side effects that can come with topical corticosteroids, the most common skin treatment for psoriasis.
High-potency steroids can be effective for the condition. But the downsides include thinning of the skin, changes in pigmentation and irreversible stretch marks, Dr. Mark Lebwohl, the lead researcher on the trial says.
That limits the drugs’ use, he explained, especially on sensitive areas like the face.
Other options, like vitamin D analogues, don’t work all that well and can irritate the skin, Lebwohl adds.
Meanwhile, there are systemic treatments for psoriasis, including various