Anne Jeffres, 41, an acupuncturist in New York, was in the midst of a stressful time at work when she noticed her scalp flaking. Her fingers became sore. Her nails were brittle and pitted. The mild psoriasis she once had as a child had returned in full force. "The flare-up was bad enough that I lost patches of hair on my head," Jeffres says.
"Psoriasis is a lifelong disease" that's mainly passed down in families, says Erin Boh, MD, PhD. She's a professor and chair of the dermatology department at...
There are a few main types of treatments specifically for facial psoriasis. The type you use depends on which part of the face is affected. Your doctor may prescribe just one or a mixture of them, including:
Low-potency corticosteroids, which are ointments, creams, lotions, or sprays that reduce redness and swelling. Doctors usually prescribe them for just a few weeks at a time. If you use them for longer, they can make your skin thin, shiny, bruise easily, or give it stretch marks.
Synthetic vitamin D, such as calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux) ointment or cream, slows the growth of skin cells. But it can also irritate your face. Calcitriol (Vectical, Rocaltrol) is a newer vitamin D drug for psoriasis that some studies suggest may be better for sensitive skin.
Retinoids, such as tazarotene gel (Tazorac), help remove scales and may ease inflammation. But skin irritation is a possible side effect.
Tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) are two drugs the FDA has approved for eczema, a different skin condition. Some dermatologists recommend these drugs for psoriasis on the face. But talk to your doctor about whether you need these medicines. The FDA says people should use them only for a short time, since some studies have linked the drugs to cancer risks.