Dithranol in a cream preparation: disperse or dissolve?

Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2000 Sep-Oct;13(5):273-9. doi: 10.1159/000029933.


In the search for the ideal dithranol cream preparation for short-contact treatment of psoriasis, we investigated the clinical efficacy, side effects and patient appreciation of two dithranol cream preparations (cream A and B) in a double-blind left-right comparing study. Dithranol was dissolved at preparation in cream A and dispersed in cream B. Cream A is known to have a shelf life of 1 year, while cream B has a much shorter shelf life (several months). Ten patients with chronic plaque-type psoriasis were treated during 7 weeks in a short-contact regimen. The clinical efficacy was monitored by scoring of erythema, induration, scaling and involved area (PASI); skin irritation was scored visually, and patient appreciation was evaluated by means of a multiple-choice questionnaire. Dispersion of dithranol in a cream was associated with less irritation and less discoloration of the skin, and its efficacy was comparable with that of the cream in which the dithranol was dissolved. As the dispersed dithranol formulation is easier to be manufactured, its quality will be less depending on the pharmacist's experience and equipment, and so more reliable. Besides, it will be less expensive to prepare. We advise to use this formulation for short-contact treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthralin / administration & dosage
  • Anthralin / adverse effects
  • Anthralin / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ointments
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Ointments
  • Anthralin