Is Your Psoriasis Treatment Working?

No matter what medicine you use, you want your skin to clear as much and as soon as possible.

Psoriasis treatments aren't a quick fix. Some treatments start to show results faster than others, but they all take time. Each has its own way of relieving psoriasis. And no medicines will make it vanish forever.

Whether a treatment is "working" can mean something different to each person. With your doctor's help and some patience, you should be able to find a treatment that you're comfortable with.

Set Reasonable Goals

Whether you're happy with a treatment depends a lot on your expectations. Some people may want a psoriasis treatment to totally clear up their skin. Others are thrilled if the redness fades or their skin is less itchy.

The first treatment you try may not be the solution. "It's trial and error," says Jenny Murase, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. "We're just testing it to see how [the psoriasis] responds."

Your doctor may have to mix different treatments to improve your skin.

"For a treatment to be working, it has to work to the satisfaction of the patient," says Mark Lebwohl, MD. He's the chairman of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board.

How Long Does It Take?

There's no hard and fast rule about when your skin will get better. On average, psoriasis drugs take about 3 months to start showing results. Other treatments may be a little faster.

  • Acitretin: 2 to 4 months, but it may take up to 6 months to reach its peak effect
  • Biologics: 2 to 3 months or longer
  • Cyclosporine: 3 to 4 months
  • Goeckerman treatment (coal tar plus light therapy): 3 to 4 weeks
  • Methotrexate: 3 to 6 weeks, although you may not see real clearing for up to 6 months
  • Phototherapy: 2 1/2 to 3 months

Give your treatment enough time to work.

If you've been waiting for a few months and still don't see a change, talk with your doctor. You may need to try something else.