Efficacy of bath psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) vs. system PUVA in psoriasis: a prospective, open, randomized, multicentre study

Br J Dermatol. 2013 Sep;169(3):704-8. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12466.


Background: Plaque psoriasis is an inflammatory disease affecting approximately 2% of the population. The clinical hallmarks of psoriasis are sharply demarcated, erythematous plaques with thick scales. Photochemotherapy (psoralen plus ultraviolet A, PUVA) is one of the most effective therapies of psoriasis. The photosensitizer 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP) can be applied either orally (system PUVA) or topically in a warm water bath (bath PUVA).

Objectives: To compare bath PUVA and system PUVA in the treatment of plaque psoriasis.

Methods: This was a randomized, open, prospective, multicentre trial. We included 74 patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis during a 6-week treatment and a 4-week follow-up period. Of the patients enrolled in the study, 38 received bath PUVA and 36 system PUVA.

Results: Both treatment modalities significantly reduced the median Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score in the intention-to-treat population. Within 6 weeks bath PUVA reduced the median PASI by 74% (16·4 to 4·2) while system PUVA did so by 62% (15·3 to 5·8). The difference between the two modalities was not significant with regard to treatment efficacy (P = 0·389).

Conclusion: There is no difference between bath PUVA and system PUVA in the treatment of psoriasis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Baths*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methoxsalen / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • PUVA Therapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Methoxsalen