Psoriasis

Psoriasis has no known cure, but many people can keep their psoriasis symptoms under control with medications and lifestyle changes. The main goal of treatment is to slow growth of skin cells. Not all treatments work for all patients, so you may need to experiment before finding the right regimen for you, and that regimen may need to change over time. Topical treatments—creams or ointments that go directly on the skin—are usually the first line of treatment and are available both over the counter and by prescription. They can relieve symptoms and help bring skin-cell growth back to normal. Steroids are one such topical treatment. Others are anthralin, vitamin D3, vitamin A (retinoids), and coal tar. Some people also find relief with dandruff shampoos and salicylic or lactic acids, which actually remove some of the plaques. Phototherapy (light therapy) can also slow the growth of skin cells. Here, your skin is exposed to ultraviolet light (usually ultraviolet B or UVB) either at home or in a medical office. Phototherapy has to be done on a regular basis to be effective. Some people find relief in short bursts of natural sunlight as well. This should always be done with sunscreen. Stay away from indoor tanning salons, which can increase the risk of skin cancer and which don't usually provide the right type of UV light. Drugs to fight psoriasis focus on reining in the overactive immune system and are usually given when other therapies have failed. Older systemic medications like methotrexate are still in use, and there are now targeted biologic drugs. These are the "big guns" of psoriasis treatment and are used after other options have failed. Different biologics target different parts of the immune system. Many biologics used to treat psoriasis are also used to treat other autoimmune diseases such as RA. Some names are Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade. Biologics are usually delivered by injection or IV infusion, but there are newer drugs that come in pill form, such as Otezla. One of the best things you can do to limit your psoriasis is quit smoking if you do smoke. There are both drugs and behavioral programs to help with this.

How to Find a Psoriasis Treatment That Works

It takes persistence and, sometimes, trial and error

A Head-to-Toe Guide to Treating Psoriasis

Different parts of the body need different treatment

How to Take Care of Your Skin at Home

Simple steps can help minimize flares and keep you comfortable

How Topical Treatments Can Help Your Psoriasis

A guide to finding one that will work for you

Can Aloe Help Treat Psoriasis?

Preliminary research is promising

What You Need to Know About Phototherapy for Psoriasis

How ultraviolet light can bring serious relief

Understanding the Risks of Immunosuppressive Drugs

What you need to know about these powerful medications

Injecting Yourself 101

The psoriasis patient’s guide to less painful and easier injecting

A Guide to Using Light Therapy for Psoriasis

How this underused treatment can help

Your Guide to Biologics

What you need to know about these powerful medications

A Guide to Oral Medications

Everything you need to know about these commonly prescribed treatments

Stelara: A New Drug for Psoriasis

A powerful biologic offers hope—and some risks—to psoriasis patients

Indigo a Promising Treatment, Needs More Research

What you should know about this alternative psoriasis therapy

Expert Advice: Should I avoid certain medications?

Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, is a professor of pathology and dermatology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Expert Advice: Should I stay out of the sun?

Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, is a professor of pathology and dermatology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Expert Advice: What natural products can you recommend?

Michael Traub, ND, is an alternative dermatology expert.

sponsored stories