Efficacy of acitretin and commercial tanning bed therapy for psoriasis

Arch Dermatol. 2003 Apr;139(4):436-42. doi: 10.1001/archderm.139.4.436.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of acitretin and commercial tanning bed therapy for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic plaque-type psoriasis.

Design: Retrospective medical record review and telephone survey of subjects and prospective open-label trial.

Setting: University dermatology clinic.

Patients: The study population comprised 26 subjects in the retrospective study and 17 subjects in the prospective study, all with moderate to severe plaque-type psoriasis.

Intervention: Twelve weeks of daily oral acitretin (25 mg) therapy and commercial tanning bed UV exposure (mean UV-B output of 4.7%) for 4 to 5 days per week.

Results: In the retrospective review, 19 (83%) of 23 subjects had clearance or near clearance, 2 (9%) of 23 had moderate improvement, and 2 (9%) of 23 had no improvement. Patients reported a high degree of satisfaction with the treatment. In the prospective trial, the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) and National Psoriasis Foundation scores decreased an average of 78.6% and 79.0% from baseline, respectively. A reduction from baseline in the PASI score of 50% and 75% (PASI 50 and PASI 75) was achieved by 13 (76%) and 10 (59%) patients, respectively. Adverse events were generally mild to moderate.

Conclusions: Acitretin use in combination with commercial tanning bed therapy appears to be effective and useful for psoriasis in areas without access to physician-directed phototherapy. The variability of tanning salon light and quality mandates caution when using this therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acitretin / adverse effects
  • Acitretin / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultraviolet Therapy* / adverse effects


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Acitretin