Hands and Nails According to a latest report, a drug used for the treatment of skin psoriasis may also be useful in reducing the symptoms of nail psoriasis. It has been stated that the use of low doses of the acitretin drug seem to reduce the symptoms of nail psoriasis. This study was conducted by the University of Bologna, Italy.

Nail psoriasis symptoms consist of colored patches on the nail bed, separation of the nail from the nail bed, irregular pitting, and reddened borders on the nails. It has been estimated that around 78 percent of psoriasis patients also suffer from nail psoriasis.

Antonella Tosti, MD, University of Bologna, Italy, and colleagues has stated that, “The quality of life of patients with severe nail psoriasis is affected as a result of pain and poor cosmetic appearance, subsequently leading to restricted activities of daily living.”

To better understand the effects of acitretin drug on patients experiencing nail psoriasis, the investigators studied around 36 patients. These patients were said to experience psoriasis of only the nails. These patients were daily provided with 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of the acitretin drug for a period of about six months. The severity of the condition of these patients were gauged through the Nail Psoriasis Severity Index (NAPSI). A higher score on this NAPSI meant more severely affected nails.

The investigators observed that, “The mean percentages of reduction of the NAPSI score and modified NAPSI score were 41 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Clinical evaluation at six months showed complete or almost complete clearing of the nail lesions in nine patients (25 percent), moderate improvement in nine (25 percent), mild improvement in 12 (33 percent) and no improvement in six (11 percent).” It was also stated that, “Only one of the 36 patients experienced adverse effects on the nail during treatment.”

It was noticed that the patients’ whose condition improved following this treatment, did not seem to re-experience their pre-treatment condition. The investigators state that a more detailed analysis needs to be conducted on a bigger number of subjects. However, according to their findings low-doses of acitretin may possibly be used for the treatment of patients with nail psoriasis.

Their findings are present in the Archives of Dermatology, one of the journals of JAMA/Archives.