Rediscovering hydroxyurea: its role in recalcitrant psoriasis

Int J Dermatol. 2001 Aug;40(8):530-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2001.01255.x.


Background: There is an acute paucity of second-line systemic agents for the treatment of extensive chronic plaque psoriasis (CPP). Recent studies using hydroxyurea in patients with HIV infection and sickle cell anemia have rekindled interest in this old drug and have provided more data regarding safety and dosage.

Objective: We wanted to test the efficacy and tolerability of hydroxyurea in patients with extensive CPP who had to discontinue first-line oral agents for any reason.

Methods: The study was a prospective nonrandomized series. Thirty-one patients, including 26 with prior history of systemic antipsoriatic therapy were given hydroxyurea 1-1.5 g per day for a median duration of 36 weeks. They were followed up for a mean period of 36.1 +/- 13.8 weeks.

Results: Almost 75% of the patients showed an adequate response (35% reduction in Psoriasis Area and Severity Index at or before 8 weeks) with over half showing more than 70% reduction in PASI score. All adverse effects were mild and reversible and none of the patients required cessation of therapy.

Conclusion: Hydroxyurea is an effective, very safe but relatively slower acting alternative for patients with extensive CPP over the short-to-medium term.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / adverse effects
  • Hydroxyurea / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hydroxyurea