Treatment of erythrodermic psoriasis: from the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Apr;62(4):655-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.05.048. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


Background: Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe form of psoriasis that can arise acutely or follow a chronic course. There are a number of treatment options, but overall there are few evidence-based data to guide clinicians in managing these challenging cases.

Objective: Our aim was to create treatment recommendations to help dermatologists treat patients with erythrodermic psoriasis.

Methods: A task force of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board was convened to evaluate treatment options for erythrodermic or exfoliative psoriasis. Meetings were held by teleconference and were coordinated and funded by the National Psoriasis Foundation. Consensus on treatment of erythrodermic psoriasis was achieved. A literature review was conducted to examine treatment options for erythrodermic psoriasis and the strength of the evidence for each option.

Results: There is no high-quality scientific evidence on which to base treatment recommendations. Treatment should be dictated by the severity of disease at time of presentation and the patient's comorbidities. Cyclosporine and infliximab appear to be the most rapidly acting agents for the treatment of erythrodermic psoriasis. Acitretin and methotrexate are also appropriate first-line choices, although they usually work more slowly. Treating physicians can consider a number of second-line agents, including etanercept or combination therapy, in the treatment of patients with erythrodermic psoriasis. Combination therapy may be more effective than a single-agent approach; there is a paucity of scientific data in this area. All patients should be evaluated for underlying infection. Supportive care can help control disease and patient symptoms if instituted appropriately. Physicians should avoid potential exacerbating agents when managing this challenging disease.

Limitations: There are few high-quality studies examining treatment options for erythrodermic psoriasis.

Conclusion: Treatment of patients with erythrodermic psoriasis demands a thorough understanding of the treatment options available. Therapy should be based on acuity of disease and the patient's underlying comorbidities. There are limited data available to compare treatment options for erythrodermic psoriasis. Further studies are necessary to explore the optimal treatment algorithm for these patients.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Dermatitis, Exfoliative / complications
  • Dermatitis, Exfoliative / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psoriasis / complications
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*