There isn't a cure for psoriasis, and there isn't a perfect treatment either. Treatment for psoriasis can be demanding and cause side effects.
Before treatment, you should make sure that your doctor is comfortable prescribing systemic and biologic medications when they're necessary, advises Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, co-director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center at New York University. He says that some doctors are reluctant to ever use these powerful drugs because of their side effects. While caution is understandable, certain cases demand systemic and biologic medicines. Strober suggests that you find a physician who really understands all of the possible treatments so you have the widest array of options.
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor about psoriasis treatment. They might help you figure out the best way to treat your psoriasis. Although not all of these questions may apply to your situation, it's still a good idea to look them over.
If my psoriasis doesn't bother me much, do I really need treatment?
Will I need different kinds of treatments for different parts of my body, such as my elbows, face, or fingernails?
Is my psoriasis so severe that I need to use phototherapy or systemic therapy instead of topical treatments? What are the side effects of these treatments?
Does your office have all treatments for psoriasis available -- such as light boxes for phototherapy -- and do you routinely prescribe systemic or biologic medications to treat the condition?
If I'm too busy to make regular phototherapy appointments, can I use a light box at home?
Should I be evaluated for psoriatic arthritis? If you think I have psoriatic arthritis, should I see a rheumatologist as well? What treatment will help both my psoriasis and arthritis symptoms?
How much will psoriasis treatment cost? Does my insurance limit the number of therapeutic choices that are open to me?
Will my therapy be long-term, or will it be sporadic?
How often will I need to come in for check-ups in order to treat my psoriasis effectively?
0. If nothing seems to help my psoriasis, what should I do?
1. Are there any medical conditions that may prevent me from getting systemic treatments? What do you need to know about my past medical history?
SOURCES: Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD. Associate Director of Dermatopharmacology, Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine; Co-Director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center; consultant for Amgen, Biogen, Genentech, Fujisawa, and 3-M. Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD, Director of the Clinical Research Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City; Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; consultant for Amgen and Genentech. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases web site. American Academy of Dermatology web site. WebMD Medical Reference with Healthwise: "Psoriasis." American Academy of Dermatology, PsoriasisNet web site. National Psoriasis Foundation web site. Abel, E. "Dermatology III: Psoriaisis," ACP Medicine, April, 2005.