Finding the Right Treatment for Psoriasis

By

Gina Garippo

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psoriasis

If you have psoriasis, you know that the condition can be uncomfortable—even painful. It can also make you feel depressed or less confident. But there are treatment options available. And for many, they bring relief and help you feel better each day. Here are some tips for finding the psoriasis treatment that is right for you.


Planning Your Treatment

The first step in taking control of your psoriasis is to ask your doctor what treatment is right for you. Your treatment plan will be based on the type and severity of your psoriasis, as well as how much of your body is affected.

Once you begin treatment, keep your doctor informed about how well it’s working. Keep in mind that a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. And you may have to try different therapies until you find one that works well for you.

Also, it’s important to know that sometimes your skin can become resistant to certain topical therapies. If this happens, don’t give up hope. It just means that it’s time you and your doctor switch your treatment plan.  

Psoriasis Treatment Options

Below are some treatment options for psoriasis. Use this information to talk with your doctor and find relief. 

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments—medicines you apply directly to the skin—are usually the first line of treatment for people with psoriasis. There are many different types of over-the-counter and prescription topical treatments available for psoriasis. These include retinoids, as well as products made with synthetic vitamin D. One of the most frequently used topical treatments for psoriasis is corticosteroids. These are anti-inflammatory drugs that can improve psoriasis by reducing redness and swelling of lesions. 

Phototherapy

Phototherapy—or light therapy—involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light on a regular basis under medical supervision. It can be done in a doctor’s office or at home with a phototherapy kit. The therapy works to slow the growth of cells that build up on the skin.  

Although short but consistent exposure to natural sunlight can help improve your psoriasis, artificial light is often used to treat psoriasis because it can be controlled. Some options include:

  • UVB light therapy. UVB—a type of ultraviolet light—is especially helpful in treating psoriasis. You administer it through light-creating devices that you can use in a clinic or at home.

  • PUVA. This therapy combines UVA light with psoralen, an oral or topical medication that makes the skin more sensitive to UV light.

  • Laser therapy. This therapy involves special laser devices that provide a controlled beam of UVB light to the surface of the skin, helping to clear mild to moderate psoriasis.

Systemic Treatment

Systemic treatment—medication that works internally—is the best form of treatment for severe psoriasis. Some common systemic treatments include:

  • Traditional systemic treatment. Doctors have used these drugs, such as acitretin (Soriatane), methotrexate, and cyclosporine, for many years in the treatment of psoriasis. They suppress the immune system and help control the multiplication of skin cells.

  • Newer, biologic drugs. Biologic drugs, such as etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), ustekinumab (Stelara) and others work internally like other systemic treatments. But instead of impacting the entire immune system, they target only certain parts of the immune system. Biologic drugs are injected or given intravenously. They help clear psoriasis and can also ease the pain of psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that is common among people with psoriasis.

Get Informed

Before beginning any treatment for psoriasis, ask your doctor how the medication works. Make sure you understand the risks, benefits, and potential side effects. By taking an active role in your care, you can gain better control over your psoriasis and your life.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 30, 2016

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View Sources

Medical References

  1. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis: Biologic Drugs. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/biologics
  2. Phototherapy. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/phototherapy
  3. Psoriasis. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/psoriasis.html
  4. Topical Treatments. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals
  5. Traditional Systemic Medications. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/systemics

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