There are many psoriasis treatments that can be used alone or in combination. They include topical treatments, phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy), and oral and injected medications.
Deciding on a treatment approach is something that you'll do with your doctor. Your decision will be based on a number of things: the severity of your psoriasis, any treatments that you've used before, whether you have other medical conditions, and finally, your own opinion about what sounds right to you.
One glance at the thermometer and there's no getting around it -- summer is
And while scorching temperatures and high humidity can put a damper on
summer fun for some, for psoriasis patients the hot, moist weather may be just
what the doctor ordered!
"In general, people with psoriasis do better in summer for two main
reasons -- No. 1, there's greater humidity, which helps keep the skin moist,
and No. 2, there's more sunlight exposure," says Bruce Strober, MD,
director of the Psoriasis...
Doctors have traditionally used a "1-2-3" approach to treating psoriasis. You start with topical creams and ointments. If they aren't enough, you might move on to phototherapy. If your psoriasis still isn't under control, you then might try pills or biologic medications. However, this incremental approach is only a rule of thumb. Your doctor may suggest a different strategy in your case. Here's a brief outline of the major approaches to treatment.
Topical treatments. Using topical treatments, such as creams and ointments, is often the first step in treating psoriasis. Some are available without a prescription, while others require a prescription from you doctor. Salicylic acid helps remove scales. The most commonly used medicines are steroid creams and ointments. Others include vitamin D-like treatments including Dovonex and Sorilux, retinoids such as Tazorac, and tar medicines such as Psorent and Scytera. For psoriasis that covers more than 10% to 20% of the skin, topical treatment usually won't work, at least not on its own.
Phototherapy (light therapy). Psoriasis responds to phototherapy. Regular exposure to the sun or artificial ultraviolet lights can improve symptoms. Approaches include UVB (exposure to ultraviolet B light) and PUVA (exposure to UVA combined with the drug psoralen, which increases the light sensitivity of the skin). Newer techniques include lasers, which are a means of giving highly concentrated UVB light exposure to a small area.
Pills. For psoriasis that doesn't respond to other treatments, medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and Soriatane (a synthetic form of vitamin A) may help. Many of these drugs have potentially severe side effects and are usually reserved for moderate to severe psoriasis. You'll need to be monitored closely when using them.
Biologic drugs. Recent discoveries about the causes of psoriasis have led to some new approaches to treatment. Biologic medicines target the immune system response that causes the symptoms of psoriasis. The evidence suggests that these new drugs have fewer side effects than pills used to treat psoriasis. Biologic drugs usually work very well and can improve psoriasis when nothing else does. However, they work by suppressing the immune system, so rarely they can cause serious infections and possibly cancer. Biologics used to treat psoriasis include Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Stelara.