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Psoriasis - Treatment Overview

Currently there is no cure for psoriasis. But many types of treatment are available, including products applied to the skin, phototherapy, and oral medicines, which can help control psoriasis. Most cases are mild and can be treated with skin products. In some cases, psoriasis can be hard to treat if it is severe and widespread. Most psoriasis returns, even mild forms.

The purpose of treatment is to slow the rapid growth of skin cells that causes psoriasis and to reduce inflammation. Treatment is based on the type of psoriasis you have, its location, its severity, and your age and overall health.

Treatment can also depend on how much you are affected by the condition, either physically (because of factors such as joint pain) or emotionally (because of embarrassment or frustration from a skin rash that may cover a large or visible area of the body). For example, you may get more aggressive treatment if your psoriasis is severe or if the patches frequently upset you.

Most cases are mild and can be treated with:

  • Creams, ointments, and lotions to moisturize the skin.
  • Shampoos, oils, and sprays to treat psoriasis of the scalp.
  • Some exposure to sunlight.
actionset.gif Psoriasis: Skin, Scalp, and Nail Care

Depending on what type of psoriasis you have, treatment may also include:

  • Skin products that your doctor prescribes.
  • Pills that your doctor prescribes.
  • Shots to help your immune system.
  • Phototherapy, which involves exposing your skin to special ultraviolet light.

You may need to try different treatments before you find one that works well for you. It's important to discuss your treatment and progress with your doctor.

Many doctors will recommend that treatments be changed or rotated after a certain period of time to make treatment more effective and to reduce side effects.

People respond differently to psoriasis treatments. A treatment that worked one time may not work again. A treatment that didn't work the first time may work when tried again later.

Avoid triggers

It's also important to avoid anything that can trigger a flare-up of psoriasis or make the condition worse. Stress, skin injury, infection, and use of alcohol can all contribute to symptom flare-ups. Streptococcal infections, which usually affect the upper respiratory tract, are linked to guttate psoriasis.

Treat scalp or nail psoriasis

Scalp and nail psoriasis can be hard to treat. Both conditions are more likely to improve with medicines taken by mouth (oral medicines). Treatment for the scalp often includes tar shampoos, corticosteroid solutions, or zinc and selenium sulfide shampoos.

Ask for help

Psoriasis can cause a lot of stress and affect how you feel about yourself. Seek information or counseling from your doctor. For tips on dealing with stress, see Home Treatment. You can also get educational materials and find support networks by contacting the National Psoriasis Foundation at www.psoriasis.org.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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