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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 561018, 16 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms of Action of Topical Corticosteroids in Psoriasis

Clínica Universitária de Dermatologia, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Av. Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-035 Lisbon, Portugal

Received 31 August 2012; Revised 14 October 2012; Accepted 20 October 2012

Academic Editor: Egle Solito

Copyright © 2012 Luís Uva et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Psoriasis is a lifelong, chronic, and immune-mediated systemic disease, which affects approximately 1–3% of the Caucasian population. The different presentations of psoriasis require different approaches to treatment and appropriate prescriptions according to disease severity. The use of topical therapy remains a key component of the management of almost all psoriasis patients, and while mild disease is commonly treated only with topical agents, the use of topical therapy as adjuvant therapy in moderate-to-severe disease may also be helpful. This paper focuses on the cutaneous mechanisms of action of corticosteroids and on the currently available topical treatments, taking into account adverse effects, bioavailability, new combination treatments, and strategies to improve the safety of corticosteroids. It is established that the treatment choice should be tailored to match the individual patient’s needs and his/her expectations, prescribing to each patient the most suitable vehicle.