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Comparison of effectiveness of topical tacrolimus 0.1% vs topical halobetasol propionate 0.05% as an add‐on to oral hydroxychloroquine in discoid lupus erythematosus

Abstract In recent years, calcineurin inhibitors have been used as the first line alternative to topical corticosteroids in the treatment of discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). We aim to evaluate the efficacy and safety of topical tacrolimus 0.1% vs topical halobetasol propionate 0.05% in patients with DLE. This comparative study was carried out in the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), Bangladesh between the period of July 2018 and June 2019. The change of DLE activity assessed with the cutaneous lupus erythematosus disease area and severity index was used as a primary outcome measure. The effective sample was 40 patients in each group. Both groups were similar in terms of baseline demographic and clinical characteristics. After 8 weeks of treatment, the mean total erythema score decreased significantly in both groups (in tacrolimus treated group [TTG] from 12.53 ± 8.05 to 8.03 ± 5.69, [P < .001] and in halobetasol propionate treated group [HTG] from 11.83 ± 7.17 to 7.30 ± 4.56 [P < .001]), as well as the mean total scale/hypertrophy score (in TTG from 8.08 ± 5.30 to 4.33 ± 3.21; [P < .001] and in HTG from 7.40 ± 4.73 to 3.68 ± 2.01, [P < .001]. The magnitude of reduction was significantly better in HTG [P = .032]). The mean total activity score decreased significantly in both groups (in TTG from 22.95 ± 13.40 to 14.33 ± 8.89, [P < .001] and in HTG from 22.15 ± 11.95 to 13.7 ± 7.22, [P < .001]). The present study demonstrated that tacrolimus 0.1% ointment and halobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment had a comparable efficacy in DLE patients; however, halobetasol showed significantly better improvement regarding scaly, hypertrophic lesions.

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