Anthralin Cream: The Original Psoriasis Treatment

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Anthralin cream is one of the original psoriasis topical medications. Decades ago, generic anthralin paste was applied thickly to plaques of psoriasis and then dusted with a powder. The treatment was effective, but also messy. For this reason, it was usually performed only in hospitals or psoriasis day treatment centers.

Such intensive psoriasis therapies have generally fallen to the wayside in favor of the more convenient treatments we have at our disposal today. Nevertheless, anthralin is still a useful drug, especially in its newest iteration, Psoriatec cream.

Psoriatec: Anthralin Reincarnated

Psoriatec is the newest (and at present, only) version of anthralin on the market. It is a timed-release cream, meaning the active ingredient is very slowly released into the skin. This helps minimize the irritation that was sometimes seen with generic anthralin in the past. The instructions for use have also been designed to reduce side effects, such as irritation and skin staining, which were both drawbacks to traditional anthralin treatment.

A More Convenient Option

Luckily, this new treatment option is a much more convenient form or relief than the anthralins of the past. Psoriatec can be relatively convenient to use by following instructions for what's known as short contact anthralin therapy (SCAT). Here's how it works:

  • It is usually recommended that patients apply the cream to the affected areas about 30 minutes before taking a shower.
  • Patients with guttate psoriasis covering most of their body can cover large areas, even normal skin, as the application time is too brief to cause irritation to surrounding healthy skin.
  • Once the time is up, a cool water shower is used to wash away the cream. This rinse removes the cream without activating the time-released drug, another measure designed to reduce inflammation and irritation.
  • A normal warm water shower with soap is then taken.

Benefits of Using Anthralin

Anthralin, in any form, is not a drug for people in a hurry. It can take weeks or months to get good results. Still, using the drug does have its upsides:

  • There are no steroids in anthralin.
  • It will not thin the skin or cause stretch marks.
  • It is not as costly as some of the newer kids on the block, such as Taclonex.
  • It sometimes works great when nothing else seems to.
  • You can apply Psoriatec to the scalp before shampooing to treat tough psoriasis scales and plaques.

As with any drug, you should discuss and weigh the risks and rewards of using a medication with your doctor before use. 

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Article Sources
  • Camisa C. Handbook of Psoriasis, 2nd Ed. Blackwell Publishing, USA 2004