Objective: During the last decades, management of intertriginous psoriasis (IP) has been unsatisfactory because of the adverse effects associated with long-term corticosteroid application and the lack of alternatives. Recently, both pimecrolimus and tacrolimus have been investigated for this indication and shown to be safe and effective. So far, to our knowledge, a comparison of one of these drugs with standard regimens for IP has not been performed.
Design: A single-center, 4-week, double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled comparison study to assess the safety and efficacy of 1% pimecrolimus, 0.005% calcipotriol, and 0.1% betamethasone valerate in the treatment of IP.
Setting: Dermatologic hospital at Ruhr University of Bochum.
Patients: Eighty adults with IP.
Interventions: Treatment of IP with 1% pimecrolimus, 0.005% calcipotriol, 0.1% betamethasone, or the vehicle once daily for 28 days.
Main outcome measures: Mean reduction of the Modified Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (M-PASI) score after 28 days of treatment was considered the primary outcome measure, which was analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis. The secondary outcome was a visual analog scale score for itching.
Results: After 4 weeks of treatment, the 3 active compounds and the vehicle resulted in a significant decrease in mean M-PASI score (86.4% for 0.1% betamethasone, 62.4% for 0.005% calcipotriol, 39.7% for 1% pimecrolimus, and 21.1% for vehicle). The 0.1% betamethasone was significantly more effective than 1% pimecrolimus during the study period (P<.05). No significant difference was found between 0.005% calcipotriol and 0.1% betamethasone and between 0.005% calcipotriol and 1% pimecrolimus. The visual analog scale score for pruritus decreased by 78% for 0.1% betamethasone, 57% for 0.005% calcipotriol, 35% for 1% pimecrolimus, and 43% for the vehicle, again demonstrating a clear advantage for the corticosteroid (P<.05).
Conclusions: The 1% pimecrolimus was shown to be less potent than 0.1% betamethasone in the treatment of IP. Considering the adverse-effect profile of long-term application of corticosteroids, occasional or intermittent rescue therapy with short-term topical corticosteroids and maintenance with a less potent agent, such as 1% pimecrolimus or 0.005% calcipotriol, might be appropriate for patients with IP in general practice.