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Dermatologists Prescribe Steroids For Psoriasis, Despite Guidelines: Study

A recent study suggests that many doctors continue to prescribe corticosteroids for the treatment of psoriasis, even though it goes against the general expert consensus.  

Current medical guidelines recommend against treating psoriasis with corticosteroids, however, a study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found corticosteroids were the second most commonly prescribed medications for the condition.

In a study published last month in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, researchers examined data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) from 1989 to 2010 and analyzed MarketScan Medicaid data from 2003 to 2007. The findings suggest that 93% of the steroid prescriptions written were given by dermatologists, doctors familiar with the prescribing recommendations for psoriasis. They found that of more than 21 million office visits, corticosteroids were prescribed 650,000 times.

Three of the top nine systemic medications prescribed for the ailment were corticosteroids. The corticosteroids prescribed were Deltasone (prednisone), Trexall (methotrexate) and Enbrel (etanercept).

Scott Davis, Assistant Director for Dermatology Research at Wake Forest, and his team of researchers urge further data concerning the risks and benefits of prescribing corticosteroids for psoriasis is needed. He warns doctors need more information to make an evidence-based decision about their use and prescribing the drug to patients.

No randomized controlled trails of systemic corticosteroid use for psoriasis have been conducted yet.

Side effects of using corticosteroids may include glaucoma, swelling in the legs, increased blood pressure, mood swings, weight gain, suppressed adrenal gland hormone production among others.

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes irritation to the skin, often turning it red. Symptoms include thick, red flaky skin with silver-white patches, known as scales. Some medications irritate the condition, triggering an outbreak and worsening the redness or scales.

The irritation caused by many topical medications, including certain anti-inflammatory drugs and blood pressure medication, prompts further concern by researchers who speculate other medications may also trigger outbreaks.

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