Cancel
Nearby: Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

Treating Psoriasis Beneath the Surface

By

Charlotte Libov

Was this helpful? (30)
This content is selected and managed by the Healthgrades editorial staff and is brought to you by an advertising sponsor.
x

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Best Diet for Psoriasis

Your diet won't cure psoriasis, but it can certainly help manage it.

7 Tips for Coping With a Psoriasis Flare-up

Psoriasis flare-ups can be devastating. Try these tips to minimize them.
How Biologics Work

For mild cases of psoriasis, topical treatments—those applied to the skin—often work well. But if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, or if topicals just aren’t effective for you, don’t despair. Other good options are available, including traditional systemic treatments and newer drugs known as biologics.


As with all psoriasis treatments, not every one of these drugs will work equally well for everyone with psoriasis. Sometimes a trial-and-error approach is necessary to find what is effective for you, notes Jerome Shupack, MD, dermatology professor and chief of the dermatopharmacology unit at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Often there is no one single medication that fits everyone. Treatment plans must be individualized,” he says.

There are many treatment options for psoriasis, and they all come with risks and benefits. Ultimately, whether you treat with topical creams, light therapy, or medications, you and your doctor will decide the best treatment path together.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Trying the Traditional Route

Traditional systemic treatments are prescription drugs that treat psoriasis by working throughout the body. You take them orally, in either liquid or pill form, or by injection. There are many systemic drugs available, including acitretin (Soriatane), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune, SangCya), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), to name just a few.

Understanding Biologics

Biologics are protein-based drugs made from living cells grown in a laboratory. They are designed to target specific parts of your immune system. Although psoriasis creates a skin problem, it is actually caused by a disorder within your immune system. Immune disorders occur when the body mistakenly attacks itself, and biologics are designed to fight that internal chain of events.

Your doctor may try various biologic drugs. One group, called T-cell blockers, targets a type of white blood cell, known as a T-cell, found in the immune system. T-cells are essential because they help guard against infection and disease. When you have psoriasis, these T-cells are activated by mistake. In fact, they become so active that they set off other immune responses. As a result, your skin cells reproduce so quickly that your body is unable to shed them normally, and psoriasis plaques develop. Alefacept (Amevive) a T-cell blocker drug.

Other biologics block a type of protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). These drugs are named for the specific substances involved in the development of psoriasis that they are designed to fight.

“The biggest category is the tumor necrosis factor drugs,” says Dr. Shupack. “They work by targeting a substance that gets the inflammatory reaction going, and then it becomes self-sustaining. These drugs inhibit this response, and once you slow it down, the lesions can heal.”

Biologic drugs are given by injection or intravenous infusion. Because they suppress your immune system response, you will be at an increased risk of infection and should be closely watched by your doctor. If you are or could become pregnant or are nursing, these drugs probably aren’t right for you.

Biologics carry serious potential risks. Some of these drugs have been associated with other diseases, such as central nervous system disorders, blood diseases, and cancers including lymphoma, although their role in the development of these diseases is not yet understood. But if you haven’t been helped by other treatments and if your psoriasis is hurting your quality of life, you might want to consider them. Talk with your doctor about all the pros and cons to see whether one might be right for you.

Was this helpful? (30)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 24, 2017

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Psoriasis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Psoriasis/default.asp#5
  2. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis: Biologic Drugs. National Psoriasis Foundation. http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/biologics
  3. Traditional Systemic Medications. National Psoriasis Foundation. http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/systemics
  4. Psoriasis Severity. National Psoriasis Foundation. http://www.psoriasis.org/page.aspx?pid=409
  5. Psoriasis and Your Immune System. Psoriasis Connections. http://www.psoriasisconnect.com/learn/psoriasis-and-immune-sys.jsp
  6. Biologic Treatments for Plaque Psoriasis. Psoriasis Connections. http://www.psoriasisconnect.com/treat/treatments-biologics.jsp

You Might Also Like

5 Skin Care Don'ts for Psoriasis Sufferers

You may not be able to prevent some psoriasis triggers, but there’s a lot you can do to avoid others.

When Psoriasis Picks at Your Nails

Psoriasis can attack more than just your skin. Sometimes it affects the nails.

Share via Email

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

Best Diet for Psoriasis

NEXT ARTICLE:

11 Tips for Living Well With Psoriasis

Up Next

11 Tips for Living Well With Psoriasis