If you aren’t getting relief from other treatments, your doctor may suggest you try a drug that fights the causes of psoriasis, rather than just the symptoms. These medications, called biologics, target a specific part of your immune system.
These drugs are approved to treat severe plaque psoriasis. They also treat psoriatic arthritis, a long-term disease that comes along with the skin condition and causes painful, swollen joints.
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...
Adalimumab (Humira). You inject it under your skin every other week. People with heart failure or multiple sclerosis shouldn't take it.
Side effects include serious and sometimes deadly infections like tuberculosis, a higher risk of certain types of cancer like lymphoma, and a greater risk of autoimmune disorders such as a lupus-like syndrome.
Apremilast (Otezla). Thisisn’t a biologic, but it does affect your immune system. It’s a pill that you take once or twice a day. It reduces the redness, thickness, and scaliness of psoriasis plaques.
It has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Tell your doctor if you've ever had these kinds of thoughts or feelings before you start this medication.
You might also have diarrhea, nausea, an upper respiratory tract infection, headaches, and other side effects. You could lose weight without trying, so your doctor will keep track of how much you weigh.
Etanercept (Enbrel). You take this by injecting it under your skin at home. You use it twice weekly for 3 months. After that, you inject it once a week.
Side effects include skin irritation and rashes. You shouldn't take it if you have multiple sclerosis, a weakened immune system, hepatitis B, or heart failure.
Infliximab (Remicade). You get this through an IV while in a doctor's office. The session lasts 2 to 3 hours. You'll follow-up 2 and 6 weeks after the first dose. After that you'll get treatments every 8 weeks.
Ustekinumab (Stelara). You take it by an injection. After the first shot, you get another shot 4 weeks later, and then an injection every 12 weeks.
It lessens the thickness of your psoriasis patches, while easing scaling, and redness.
The drug can raise your chances of serious infections, cancer, and a rare condition called reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy, which affects your brain and is sometimes fatal.