– With the right regimen, a majority of patients with psoriasis can achieve at least a Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) 75 score, Jennifer Soung, MD, said in a presentation at MedscapeLive’s annual Las Vegas Dermatology Seminar.

The array of treatment options includes mainstay topicals, new nonsteroidals, traditional oral systemics, new oral systemics, biologics, and light therapy, said Dr. Soung, director of clinical research at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Santa Ana, Calif. However, some areas of the body require unique considerations for successful psoriasis treatment, notably the scalp, face, intertriginous areas, palms and soles, and nails, she said.

For these areas, make sure the diagnosis of psoriasis is correct, to avoid wasting time on the wrong course of treatment, Dr. Soung emphasized.

Scalp strategies

The scalp is often the first area of the body affected by psoriasis, and patients with severe scalp psoriasis may have minimal plaques on the body, Dr. Soung said. However, a differential diagnosis should include seborrheic dermatitis, she noted.

For most cases of scalp psoriasis, “start with localized topical treatment,” such as vitamin D and corticosteroid combination therapy, or excimer laser, Dr. Soung advised.

Systemic treatments with demonstrated effectiveness on scalp psoriasis in post hoc analyses of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis include adalimumab, etanercept, ixekizumab, and secukinumab. Studies specifically focused on treatment of scalp psoriasis have shown success with secukinumab and apremilast, she noted.

Roflumilast foam, 0.3%, is in development and is an emerging option for scalp psoriasis. (A cream formulation of roflumilast, a topical phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor, was approved for treatment of plaque psoriasis in July 2022.) A phase 2b study of roflumilast foam showed that approximately one-third of patients with scalp psoriasis achieved a status of clear based on scalp-investigator global assessment, compared with approximately 3% of those on vehicle, and similar results were seen in a recently completed phase 3 trial for scalp and body psoriasis, she added.

Facial psoriasis

Patients with facial psoriasis tend to be younger, and they may have more severe disease overall, Dr. Soung said. Given the sensitivity of facial skin, “it is nice to have a nonsteroidal option,” she noted. Current novel nonsteroidal therapies include a cream formulation of tapinarof, an aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonist, which was approved earlier this year for plaque psoriasis in adults, and roflumilast cream. Vitamin D and topical calcineurin inhibitors are options as well, she said.

Intertriginous tricks

Intertriginous (inverse) psoriasis is distinct from other areas in that the plaques are usually smooth and well-demarcated, with little or no scaling, Dr. Soung said. Erosions or signs of maceration may be present. The prevalence of inverse psoriasis is approximately 30%, but the prevalence on external genitalia is 80%, she noted. For inverse psoriasis, topical corticosteroids can result in adverse events such as poor wound healing and skin fragility, and some patients resist the idea of a steroid and don’t adhere to the medication, she added. Dr. Soung recommended topical corticosteroids for the short term, and topical calcineurin inhibitors or calcipotriol for the long term.

New topical options for inverse psoriasis include tapinarof and roflumilast, Dr. Soung said. For tapinarof, the phase 3 PSOARING program included assessment of tolerability in sensitive skin areas and found little to no irritation. Similarly, treatment with roflumilast cream was effective and well tolerated by patients with intertriginous plaque psoriasis in the DERMIS-1 and DERMIS-2 studies, she said.

Genital psoriasis

Ask patients with psoriasis about genital psoriasis, because they often are too embarrassed to provide that information on their own, said Dr. Soung. In fact, 63% of patients with psoriasis report ever experiencing genital psoriasis, but it often goes undiagnosed and undertreated, which has a significant impact on patient quality of life and sexual health.

A differential diagnosis of genital psoriasis should include dermatitis, tinea or candidiasis, and even squamous cell carcinoma, she noted. Other considerations include fixed drug eruption, lichen nitidus, lichen sclerosus, and scabies.

Dr. Soung’s first line of treatment for genital psoriasis is low-potency topical corticosteroids for 2-4 weeks. If long-term topical therapy is needed, alternatives include calcineurin inhibitors and vitamin D analogs, she said. The new topicals roflumilast and tapinarof are options as well, she said.

For those patients with severe and extensive genital psoriasis, consider systemic therapy, possibly with ixekizumab or secukinumab, she added. Patients with moderate to severe genital psoriasis treated with apremilast have shown improvement at week 16, in an ongoing clinical trial, she noted.

Palmoplantar involvement

For patients with palmar plantar psoriasis, “don’t underestimate the impact on quality of life,” said Dr. Soung. Approximately 12%-16% of patients with psoriasis report palmoplantar involvement, she noted.

Palmoplantar psoriasis can be stubborn, and many patients will need combination therapy with topicals and systemics, she said. “I am very curious about how well our new topical nonsteroidals will work in these areas,” she added.

Dr. Soung starts patients with palmoplantar psoriasis with a “potent to super-potent” twice daily topical corticosteroid, with or without occlusion. Her first-line systemic therapy is acitretin, 10-50 mg daily. However, keep in mind that acitretin is contraindicated in pregnancy, and also may cause side effects including cheilitis, alopecia, and peeling skin, she cautioned.

During the question and answer session, Dr. Soung was asked whether she routinely biopsies patients with palmoplantar psoriasis. “Not always,” was her answer. Instead, she looks for clues elsewhere on the body to confirm the diagnosis.

Nail know-how

Approximately 23%-27% of patients with psoriasis experience nail involvement, said Dr. Soung. Nail psoriasis can appear on the nail plate as pitting, onycholysis, or subungual hyperkeratosis, or in the nail bed as splinter hemorrhages or oil spots, she said.

For patients with psoriasis of the nails only, Dr. Soung described the use of high-potency topical corticosteroids, with or without calcipotriol. In her experience, she said that intralesional steroids for nail psoriasis are torturous to patients. For patients who have failed topical therapy or have psoriasis in other areas, with or without psoriatic arthritis, she advised the use of either IL-17 antagonists (secukinumab, ixekizumab, brodalumab) or IL-23 antagonists (risankizumab, guselkumab).

Dr. Soung disclosed serving as a consultant or advisor for Arcutis, Bristol Myers Squibb Company, Dermavant, and Novartis. She also disclosed serving as a speaker or member of the speakers’ bureau for AbbVie, Amgen, Arcutis, Bristol Myers Squibb Company, Celgene, Leo Pharma, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Ortho Dermatologics, Pfizer, Regeneron, and Sanofi, as well as research funding from AbbVie, Amgen, Arcutis, Castle Biosciences, Dermavant, KoBio, Kyowa Kirin, Leo Pharma, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, and UCB.

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