If you’re experiencing raised, inflamed, and scaly patches of skin, with or without itchiness and pain, you could be experiencing plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Plaques may appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the scalp, knees, elbows, and torso. The plaques may appear discolored. For example, on Caucasian skin the plaque may appear silvery-white. On skin of color, plaques may appear more of a purple, gray, or darker brown color. Certain things may trigger plaque psoriasis like medications, infections, stress, tobacco, or alcohol use. However, even after managing triggers people with plaque psoriasis may still experience uncomfortable symptoms.
In May of 2022, the US food and drug administration (FDA) approved Vtama (tapinarof) cream for the treatment of plaque psoriasis in adults. At the time, it was announced as the first new chemical entity developed for plaque psoriasis in 25 years. Vtama does not contain a steroid medication, like many other plaque psoriasis treatments. It contains the active ingredient called tapinarof and was developed by the pharmaceutical company called Dermavant. Tapinarof is part of a drug class called aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists, and it is the first drug of its kind. It is thought to work for plaque psoriasis by fixing the imbalance in your immune system, decreasing inflammation, reinforcing the skin barrier, and boosting antioxidants.
Read our blog about treating psoriasis another way here.
Vtama was approved for use in adults with mild, moderate, and/or severe plaque psoriasis. It was approved after showing that patients achieved significantly clearer skin with Vtama versus a placebo. According to the manufacturer, people were six times more likely to have treatment success with the drug Vtama versus a cream not containing the drug. It was found to be safe for long-term use. Though, many people in clinical trials noticed healing of their lesions, even after they stopped using the medication. If your lesions heal while using Vtama, tell your healthcare provider. You may not need to continue using the medication. However, if you stop the medication and notice your psoriasis returning, you may need to discuss resuming Vtama. Vtama is used by applying a thin layer of cream to the affected areas once daily. Once daily application makes it very convenient for most people. Be sure to wash your hands after use. It should not be applied in the mouth, eyes, or vagina.
Vtama might not be right for everyone. Vtama was not studied in patients who were pregnant or breastfeeding, so the safety in this population is not known. The most common side effects in people treated with Vtama were folliculitis (red, raised bumps around the hair pores), pain or swelling in the nose and throat, contact dermatitis (skin rash or irritation), headache, itching, and the flu.
The approval of another drug for plaque psoriasis is great for people who suffer from the disease. Not all treatments work for everyone, so having another option to try will likely help many people find symptom relief. If you’re interested in trying something new for your plaque psoriasis, speak with your health care provider.