Mayo Clinic offers all psoriasis treatments: topical creams and ointments, light therapy, medications, and the Goeckerman treatment (offered at Mayo's Minnesota location). Treatments may be combined to increase effectiveness or decrease side effects.
The Goeckerman treatment is named after a Mayo Clinic dermatologist who developed this treatment in 1925. The Goeckerman treatment is appropriate for most individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis. While it is time-consuming, taking approximately three weeks, it has a long track record of effectiveness, with few side effects. It also is very cost-effective compared to the cost of other treatments.
Treatment involves daily ultraviolet light exposure and application of coal tar. In the past, people were treated in the hospital. Today, they are treated in an outpatient setting, spending nights in a hotel room. The procedure is as follows:
Two Mayo studies reviewed long-term results of the Goeckerman treatment at Mayo Clinic (over a 21-year period in children and over six decades for adults). Researchers found that 85 percent of people had a clearing (remission) of 80 percent or more of their psoriasis with the Goeckerman treatment. The average length of the remission was 2.6 years in children and about 1.7 years in adults, with some remissions lasting longer than 10 years. The only side effect of the treatment was an infection of hair follicles (folliculitis) in about 40 percent of children and 20 to 30 percent of adults; this was treatable with a topical solution.
Watch Medical Edge story about Mayo Clinic's tar treatment for psoriasis.
Mayo Clinic Specialty Pharmacy helps Mayo patients with chronic diseases manage their medications.