When it comes to psoriasis medication, there are several options on the market. Your doctor will decide which psoriasis medication is right for you based upon the severity of your condition, as well as how you have responded to certain treatments in the past. On this page, we want to take a look at some of the most popular treatment methods for psoriasis.
This will often be the ‘go to’ for doctors when they are first starting to treat psoriasis in a patient. This is because they are a bit easier to administer and in most cases they are going to be effective. The most popular topical methods include:
- Emollients: these are applied directly to the skin. Their job is to help to prevent water loss. This is probably the main treatment you will be using if you are suffering from mild psoriasis. When you apply the emollients to your skin, you will wrap your skin in a plastic wrapping. This will help to keep the moisture locked in.
- Steroid creams: probably not the first option due to the negative impact that steroids can have through long term use. This is a treatment which helps to drastically reduce inflammation. They will slow down the speed at which skin cells are growing which will reduce scaling. As mentioned previously; this is a medication which can be very strong when used, so it is often kept to the minimum.
- Vitamin D Analogue creams: these are anti-inflammatory and will slow down the production of skin cells. The most popular ones on the market include calcipotriol and tacalcitol.
- Calcineurin Inhibitors: these are creams which slow down the speed at which the immune system works. It is likely that you will be prescribed these if you have psoriasis in a sensitive area e.g. your genitals or your scalp.
- Coal Tar: this can reduce inflammation, itchiness, and scales.
- Dithranol: this slows down the speed at which skin cells are produced. It is normally going to be given as a short term treatment and you will likely need to be in hospital while you undergo it due to the side effects.
Phototherapy is the process of using light to combat psoriasis. While natural light does work, and many people are encouraged to go out in the sun for short bursts of time if they are dealing with a psoriasis flare-up (do wear sunscreen if you do this!). This section is going to purely focus on the artificial light treatments which many dermatologists can provide you with.
- UVB Phototherapy: this uses UVB rays on your skin. The light will slow down the speed at which skin cells are being produced. This is a treatment which is normally used if you are suffering from a more severe case of psoriasis i.e. if your skin does not seem to be responding to any topical treatments. This is a treatment that you will be undergoing for the long term. While the treatment itself only takes a couple of minutes each time to administer, you will need to have it carried out roughly three times per week for six to eight weeks. How long and how frequent the UVB phototherapy treatment is will be dependent on the severity of your condition.
- Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA): This is a treatment which starts with a tablet. This tablet will have compounds in it known as psoralens. While this is a compound which can be applied directly to your skin, it seems to be more effective when consumed as a tablet. The purpose of the psoralens is to make your skin more sensitive to light. Your skin will have ultraviolet A shone at it. This penetrates your skin much more deeply than the UVB rays. This is a treatment which is mostly going to be used if you are suffering from the most severe psoriasis. This is because the side effects of the treatment can be quite harsh. For example; you may suffer from nausea or itchiness. You may even need to wear glasses after taking the pill because your eyes are going to be so sensitive to the light. There is also an indication that this treatment can increase the risk of skin cancer.
- Combination light therapy: this is a combination of two therapies. Coal tar (which makes the skin more receptive to light) and UBV phototherapy.
These are treatments which are often prescribed as a last resort for dealing with psoriasis. While they are effective, they can have quite a severe impact on the body and they are not really recommended for long term use. Your doctor will choose the treatment that is right for you.
While there are several systemic treatments on the market, we are not going to cover them all. What we do want to do is cover the most popular of them:
- Methotrexate: This helps to slow down the production of skin cells while reducing the inflammation that you are dealing with. You will normally take the pill once per week.
- Ciclosporin: this can suppress your immune system which can help with inflammation and your symptoms. However, it can also increase your blood pressure.
- Acitretin: slows down the production of skin cells. It is taken daily and will often be used if one of the previous two treatments did not work for you. It can cause your skin to dry out in some cases and may even lead to hepatitis.
- Etanercept: this is a systemic treatment which is injected. You will do this yourself rather than go to your doctor. It will be given twice per week. You will normally undergo the treatment for 12 weeks to see if there is any improvement.
- Adalimumab: this is another treatment which is injected. In this case, you will receive the injection once every 2 weeks. This will continue for at least sixteen weeks. If there is no improvement, the doctor will ask that you stop the treatment due to the side effects associated with it.
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