NSAIDs in dermatologic therapy: review and preview

J Cutan Med Surg. 2002 Sep-Oct;6(5):449-59. doi: 10.1007/s10227-001-0137-3. Epub 2002 Sep 4.


Background: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been an important therapy in the treatment of a large number of cutaneous pathologies for more than three decades.

Objective: In this retrospective review, we document the use of NSAIDs in more than 15 common and uncommon dermatoses, including acne, psoriasis, sunburn, erythema nodosum, cryoglobulinemia, Sweet's syndrome, systemic mastocytosis, as well as urticarial, livedoid, and nodular vasculitis. NSAIDs act mainly by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis by the cyclooxygenase (COX) pathway.

Conclusion: Recent studies link prostaglandin to cutaneous carcinogenesis, thus expanding the dermatologic use of NSAIDs. They may be effective in the treatment and prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer, and specific COX-2 inhibitors promise safer, broader, long-term use of these pharmacologically innovative drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatology / methods
  • Humans
  • Prostaglandins / biosynthesis
  • Prostaglandins / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases / prevention & control


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Prostaglandins