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Dermatology Online Journal

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The use of Goeckerman therapy in managing erythrodermic psoriasis resistant to multiple medications


Erythrodermic psoriasis is a relatively rare, more dangerous inflammatory variant of psoriasis associated with high morbidity and mortality. It can be exceptionally challenging to manage, defeating even the most experienced dermatologist's arsenal of treatment strategies. Goeckerman therapy, a regimen of ultraviolet B phototherapy and crude coal tar, has demonstrable efficacy in severe and recalcitrant plaque-type psoriasis. However, its utility in erythrodermic psoriasis has not been explored within the dermatology literature. Herein, we present a patient with a long-standing history of erythrodermic psoriasis refractory to eleven treatment modalities including four biologic agents, who had his erythroderma 'turned around' following Goeckerman therapy. 'Turned around' is used to describe dramatically reducing a patient's cutaneous inflammation so that previously recalcitrant disease can now respond to maintenance therapy. The importance of a one to three week 'cool down' period of topical corticosteroid therapy prior to phototherapy or crude coal tar use is highlighted in this case as well. Although Goeckerman therapy is no longer regularly used, it remains one of the most efficacious treatments available for intractable psoriasis, attracting patients from all over the country desperate for symptom relief. This case suggests it may be useful in 'turning around' extremely difficult-to-treat erythrodermic psoriasis as well.

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