Celastrol-Containing Emollient Balm Improves Signs of Psoriasis and Associated Pruritus

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Male rubbing moisturising lotion on dry elbows and arm. Space for copy.
The tolerance and efficacy of a new celastrol-containing emollient balm for the treatment of plaque psoriasis was evaluated.

Daily application of an emollient balm containing celastrol, an active ingredient with anti-Th17 immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, was well tolerated in  patients with body plaque psoriasis and was effective for improving pruritus, physical signs, and quality of life (QoL) during 1 month of treatment, according to  study research published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

The study included adults with body plaque psoriasis from Romania and Portugal. Patients applied the celastrol-containing emollient balm over the whole body once per day for 4 weeks, either alone (n=41; mean age, 52 years) or with ongoing psoriasis drug therapy or phototherapy (n=50; mean age, 49.6 years). Physical and functional signs as well as pruritus and the body global lesion score (comprising erythema, induration/thickness, scaling, and dryness) were assessed at day 1, day 8 (“balm alone” study) or day 15 (“balm in association” study) and day 29.

None of the patients reported a reaction associated with the balm, and the investigators deemed the tolerance of the product after 28 days as excellent. The mean pruritus intensity score in the “balm alone” study significantly decreased at day 8 (-39%; P <.001) and day 29 (-60%; P <.001) compared with day 1. There were also significant reductions in the body global lesion score in the “balm alone” study at day 8 (-24%) and at day 29 (-26%) (P <.001). No applications were missed, indicating that compliance to the balm was 100% throughout the study. A patient-reported outcome questionnaire suggested that QoL improved with the balm.

Limitations of the study included the lack of a placebo group as well as the small number of patients in the overall cohort.

The researchers wrote that the findings suggest a celastrol-containing emollient balm could be used “as a dedicated adjunctive care for psoriasis and showed its benefit as a complementary care modality for management of the physical signs of psoriasis, pruritus, and quality of life.”


Thouvenin MD, Dalmon S, Theunis J, et al. Tolerance and efficacy of a new celastrol-containing balm as adjunct care in psoriasis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020;34 Suppl 6:10-16. doi:10.1111/jdv.16691