Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory condition that appears as red, scaly patches on the skin. These patches are often itchy and painful and can occur anywhere on the body. Even though psoriasis is incurable, there are many treatments available to manage the symptoms. However, unwanted side effects and organ toxicity can be attributed to the current long-term treatments for psoriasis. As a result, researchers have been looking into the use of topical vitamin B12 as a possible treatment option.
One study found that the release of nitric oxide gas is associated with psoriasis. In another study, it was shown that inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis caused a reduction in itchiness and redness in atopic dermatitis. Since the vitamin B12 precursor cobinamide is a scavenger of nitric oxide, researchers wanted to see if vitamin B12 would be helpful for psoriasis as well.
Researchers compared the use of a topical vitamin B12 cream and a common moisturizing cream. Twenty-four patients with mild to moderate psoriasis were instructed to apply the B12 ointment to the skin of one side of their body twice a day while applying a commonly available commercial moisturizer to the other side for 12 weeks. At the beginning of the study, the severity of psoriasis in each patient was scored according to the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) assessment. By the end of the study, the PASI scores for the body sides treated with the B12 ointment showed a greater reduction compared to the moisturizer-treated body sides. The researchers concluded that topical vitamin B12 is a safe and effective option that is well-tolerated.
How Can Future Studies Build on These Results?
While the results are promising, there are a few ways in how future studies can be enhanced:
Increase the number of participants. This study was a pilot study and future studies should include more people
Use a comparative cream that is similar to the topical vitamin B12 cream. The vitamin B12 also contained avocado oil and natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which may have been helpful. Future studies should compare the base cream with vitamin B12 to just the base cream rather than a commercial cream. Otherwise, it is not clear if the effects of the topical vitamin B12 cream were due to the vitamin B12, the avocado oil, or the natural moisturizing factor.
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Ormerod AD, Weller R, Copeland P, et al. Detection of nitric oxide and nitric oxide synthases in psoriasis. Arch Dermatol Res.1998;290(1-2):3-8; PMID: 9522994 Link to research.
Stucker M, Pieck C, Stoerb C, et al. Topical vitamin B12--a new therapeutic approach in atopic dermatitis-evaluation of efficacy and tolerability in a randomized placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trial. Br J Dermatol.2004;150(5):977-983; PMID: 15149512 Link to research.
Baker H, Comaish JS. Is vitamin B12 of value in psoriasis? Br Med J.1962;2(5321):1729-1730; PMID: 13969145 Link to research.