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Dithranol has been used for more than 100 years in the treatment of psoriasis. It is a chemical of plant origin, taken from the bark of a South American tree.

Dithranol in Lassar's paste is used most successfully for in-patients in the hospital environment. However the use of dithranol is not without drawbacks. Dithranol permanently stains both skin and clothing and can burn non-affected skin.

Whilst this can be controlled by careful application in hospital its compliance is poor when used as out patient therapy. There are also a large number of concentrations for doctors to use and the tendency has been for patients to be prescribed different concentrations to be used in either a "step up" or "step down" fashion.

Proprietary dithranol containing products are more acceptable. They can be used in 'short contact regimes' being applied to the psoriatic plaques and left for up to one hour, before washing off. This method reduces dithranol burning and staining.

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