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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 292-293

Role of anti-depressant fluoxetine in the puva treatment of psoriasis vulgaris

Ruby General Hospital, Karsba Col Park, Calcutta, Advanced Skin Treatment centre, Fern Place, Calcutta and VIMS Sarat Bose Road, Calcutta, India

Correspondence Address:
PO Box 16211, Calcutta- 29, India


Severity of psoriasis vulgaris is known to be modified by psychological stress. The objective of this study was to evaluate the role of fluoxetine in the PU VA treatment of psoriasis. Twenty patients with progressive disease having more than thirty per cent body area involvement were included in a randomized, double blinded, placebo- controlled, age and sex matched study. All patients were on PUVA treatment, half of patients were given fluoxetine 20 mgs daily whereas the ten were given placebo. Assessment was done by Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scoring after every 5 exposures of PUVA treatment till 20 treatments. All ten patients who took fluoxetine along with PUVA treatment showed better response and quicker remission. Fluoxetine may be used as an adjuvant in PUVA treatment of psoriasis.

How to cite this article:
Mitra A. Role of anti-depressant fluoxetine in the puva treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2001;67:292-3

How to cite this URL:
Mitra A. Role of anti-depressant fluoxetine in the puva treatment of psoriasis vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2001 [cited 2021 Jan 20];67:292-3. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Psoriasis is a common and chronic inflammatory and proliferative papulosquamous disease of the skin,[1] of unknown etiology.[2] The chronic course with intermittent exacerbation poses a great physical and mental stress to the patients. Psoriasis is made worse by stress in approximately 30 to 40 per cent of the cases.[3] When psoriasis starts worsening, patients are subjected to increased stress. Often they have been noted to be obsessed with the progressing condition of the disease and suffer from dysthymia and depression. So the role of antidepressant drug fluoxetine was evaluated in this study.
Psoriasis causes psychological distress in patients undergoing PUVA treatment through its effects on the patient's everyday life.[4] Also a statistically significant correlation was noted between the extent of psoriasis and the proportion of patients stating their disease worsened at time of psychological stress.[5]
Recently psychological intervention has proved to be a valuable adjunct to the normal dermatological treatment and was followed by improvement in the majority of the patients.[6] The importance of assessing the effects of psoriasis specific stress indicated the role of adjunctive psychosocial stress management training for a significant number of patients with psoriasis.[7] Depression and suicidal ideation have been noted in patients severely affected by psoriasis and their prevalence was higher than in general medical patients.[8]
Fluoxetine is a well-established anti­depressant and is used for obsessive complusive disorders too. Howeverthere is one report where two patients on long term[8] fluoxetine had developed psoriasis after six and twelve months of exposure.
The present study was conducted to evaluate the role of fluoxetine in reducing the psychological stress in psoriasis patients. Since psychic stress is associated with clinical severity and symptoms of psoriatis[5] more attention to the mental wellbeing should be considered in psoriatis[5] seeking medical care.

   Materials and Methods Top

Twenty patients of psoriasis vulgaris were included in the study. All the patients had more than 30% body surface area involvement and the disease was progressing rapidly. All were suffering from severe stress due to progress of the disease. The study was randomized, double blinded, age and sex matched. Every patient was assessed with PAST scoring. All patients were treated with PUVA therapy. Half of the patients were given placebo capsules. Assessment was done before starting treatment, then after every 5 PUVA treatments ti l120 treatments were reached. Statistical analysis was done by SPSS 7.5 Statistical Analysis Software. Within group comparison was done by Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test while inter group comparison was done Mann­-Whitney U-test.

   Results Top

The results were as follows:
[Table - 1]
Addition of fluoxetine to PUVA has showed a trend towards more rapid improvement, but this fails to reach the level of statistical significance. Therefore a larger sample size may be considered. Individually in groups there is statistically significant improvement right from the first 5 treatment sessions and is sustained throughout the duration of treatment.

   Discussion Top

The study showed that ten patients who had been prescribed fluoxetine along with PUVA therapy showed quicker improvement as compared to those with placebo and PUVA therapy. Hence, fluoxetine may be used as an adjunct in the treatment of psoriasis along with PUVA therapy. This may serve the double purpose of ameliorating psoriasis as well as the psychological impact associated with it thus improving the life quality of the patients. However, a more extensive study with a larger sample size is warranted to assess the statistical significance associated with it. 

   References Top

1.Tillikainen A, Lassus A, Karvonen J, et al. Psoriasis and HLA CW6, Br J Dermatol 1980;102: 179-184.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Bos JD. The pathomechanism of psoriasis, the immune system and cyclosporin, Br J Dermatol 1988; 118: 141-155.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Krueger GG, Eyre RW. Trigger factors in psoriasis, Dermatology Clinics, edited by G. Weinstein, J Voorhees. Philadelphia, Saunders, 1984, p 373.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Root S, Kent G, al-Abadie MS. The relationship between disease severity, disability and psychological distress in patients undergoing PUVA treatment for psoriasis, Dermatology 1994,189: 234-237.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Park BS. Youn JI. Factors influencing psoriasis: an analysis based upon the extent of involvement and clinical type, J Dermatol 1998, 25, 97-102.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Capoore HS, Rowland Payne CM, Goldin D. Does psychological intervention help chronic skin conditions? Postgraduate Med J 1998; 74 : 622-624.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Fortune DG, Main CJ, O'Sullivan TM, et al. Quality of life in patients of psoriasis: the contribution of clinical variables and psoriasis specific stres. Br J Dermatol 1997: 755-760.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Gupta MA, Gupta AK. Depression and suicidal ideation in dermatology patients with acne, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, Br J Dermatol 1998; 139: 846-850.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Henlock C, Rosenthal JS, Winston A. Fluoxetine induced psoriasis Ann Pharmacotherapy 1992; 26:211-212.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Harvima RJ, Viinamaki H, Harvina IT, et al. Association of psychic stress with clinical severity and symptoms of psoriatic patients. Acta Dermatol Venereol 1996; 76: 467-471.  Back to cited text no. 10    


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