Dead Sea climatotherapy effective for plaque psoriasis
MedWire News: "Climatotherapy" at the Dead Sea is an effective treatment for plaque psoriasis, new research suggests.
Dead Sea climatotherapy (DSC) involves sun exposure together with regular bathing in the famous salt lake between Jordan and Israel.
"DSC is an effective, natural and well-accepted treatment option for plaque psoriasis," say Marco Harari (Research Institute at the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Israel) and colleagues. "The efficacy, safety and long-term remission that are associated with this treatment modality have been widely investigated."
However, it is unclear whether the effectiveness of DSC depends on factors such as the patient's age or the type of psoriasis.
To investigate, Harari's team studied the records of 605 people with plaque psoriasis who had undergone DSC between 2003 and 2007. In 90% of patients, symptoms first appeared before the age of 40 years, meaning they were classified as having early-onset disease.
During DSC, all patients bathed in the Dead Sea daily for 28 days as well as being exposed to escalating doses of ultraviolet-B radiation. Patients discontinued use of topical psoriasis medications although they were allowed to continue using oral or intramuscular medications.
To evaluate the effectiveness of DSC, the researchers looked at the change in the Psoriasis Assessment of Severity Index (PASI) score between baseline and the end of treatment.
Overall, DSC was considered successful in an "impressive" 73% of all cases, write Harari and co-authors in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.
And, contrary to expectations, they found that patients with early-onset psoriasis achieved better results than those with late-onset disease.
They conclude that DSC is "relatively safe..., applicable to all age groups, has virtually no side effects and is achieved without the need for hospitalization."
However, disadvantages include the need to travel to the Dead Sea, the cost (which is not always reimbursed by social or medical insurance), and the duration of treatment.
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By Joanna Lyford