Safer nail psoriasis treatment as effective as topical steroids

| Melissa Leavitt

A new treatment for nail psoriasis may offer patients a safer alternative that doesn’t sacrifice results.

In a recent study, Vectical ointment (calcitriol) improved symptoms of nail psoriasis just as effectively as a corticosteroid typically used to treat the condition. According to the study results, published this month in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, both Vectical and the topical steroid successfully reduced nail thickness, a common symptom of nail psoriasis.

Nail psoriasis affects approximately half of all psoriasis patients, according to the research team, and is often treated with corticosteroids. However, while corticosteroids can be an effective treatment, they have also been known to damage the bones of the fingers and toes, the researchers note. The condition, known as the “disappearing digit,” affects the distal phalanx, which is the bone at the tip of fingers and toes.

The search for a safer treatment option led the research team to compare Vectical, a Vitamin D-based ointment, with betamethasone diproprionate, a corticosteroid ointment. The small double-blind study involved 10 patients with nail psoriasis, including seven men and three women. The average age of study participants was 57. Four of the participants were given Vectical, while the remaining six were given betamethasone diproprionate. All patients took the medication twice daily for five months, with a final follow-up one month later.

All 10 of the patients experienced a reduction in nail thickness. Overall, patients using Vectical experienced a 38 percent reduction, while patients using the corticosteroid experienced a 35 percent reduction. After finishing treatment, 81 percent of patients had “normal” nail thickness, the researchers note.

Because the difference in results from the two drugs was not statistically significant, the researchers explain, their findings suggest that Vectical and betamethasone diproprionate are equally effective treatment options.

The researchers recommend that larger studies further examine Vectical as a treatment option for nail psoriasis.

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