Evaluation of the efficacy of acitretin therapy for nail psoriasis

Arch Dermatol. 2009 Mar;145(3):269-71. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2008.600.


Objective: To evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of acitretin in patients with isolated nail psoriasis.

Design: Open study involving 36 patients with moderate to severe nail psoriasis treated with acitretin.

Setting: University-based outpatient dermatology clinic specializing in nail diseases.

Patients: A total of 27 men and 9 women (mean age, 41 years) with nail psoriasis.

Intervention: Therapy consisted of acitretin, 0.2 to 0.3 mg/kg/d, for 6 months.

Main outcome measures: Clinical evaluation, and Nail Psoriasis Severity Index (NAPSI) and modified NAPSI scores before therapy, every 2 months during therapy, and 6 months after treatment.

Results: The mean percentage of reduction of the NAPSI score after treatment was 41%; the mean percentage of reduction of the modified NAPSI score of the target nail was 50%. Clinical evaluation at 6 months showed complete or almost complete clearing of the nail lesions in 9 patients (25%), moderate improvement in 9 (25%), mild improvement in 12 (33%), and no improvement in 6 (11%).

Conclusion: Results from low-dose acitretin therapy show NAPSI score reductions comparable with those studies evaluating biologic drugs for nail psoriasis and suggest that low-dose systemic acitretin should be considered in the treatment of nail psoriasis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acitretin / adverse effects
  • Acitretin / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nail Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Acitretin