Tazarotene Revisited: Safety and Efficacy in Plaque Psoriasis and Its Emerging Role in Treatment Strategy

Emil Tanghetti, Mark Lebwohl, Linda Stein Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Psoriasis is a chronic, immune-mediated disease that varies widely in its clinical expression. Treatment options focus on relieving symptoms, reducing inflammation, induration, and scaling, and controlling the extent of the disease. While significant data on tazarotene in psoriasis has been available for over 20 years, its main utility is in acne. Objective: To review the clinical studies with tazarotene in psoriasis and establish its future role in the management of this chronic, incurable condition. Methods: An English language literature review was performed utilizing Medline, EMBASE, and the Web of Science to identify relevant articles, both clinical trials and reviews. Results: Tazarotene is a very effective treatment for plaque psoriasis, with significant reductions in both plaque elevation and scaling after 12 weeks. Efficacy appears to be dose and formulation dependent, and erythema less responsive. Tazarotene sustains clinical response posttreatment and may have an important role in maintenance therapy. The most common side effect is mild-to-moderate local irritation, which limited its role as a single agent for psoriasis. Efficacy is enhanced through combination with topical corticosteroids (TCS). Tazarotene may circumvent the problem of TCS tachyphylaxis, due to its sustained efficacy and provide tolerability benefits; tazarotene increases epidermal thickness and may reduce the risk of steroid-induced atrophy. In addition, tazarotene-induced irritation is reduced by the anti-inflammatory effect of TCS. A new fixed combination, well-tolerated tazarotene/halobetasol topical formulation is now available, which provides synergistic efficacy that is both rapid and sustained posttreatment. Conclusions: Tazarotene is a highly effective psoriasis treatment whose efficacy and tolerability can be enhanced through combination therapy with TCS, and a new fixed combination topical formulation of tazarotene and halobetasol may provide an optimal management approach. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(12):1280-1287.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1287
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Drugs in Dermatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


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