Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that is characterized by the development of thick scales and itchy, red patches on the skin. While this disease can't be cured, many treatments are available which can ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are four treatments for psoriasis.
Topical corticosteroids are the most common treatment for psoriasis and can come in the form of ointments, creams, or lotions. Your dermatologist will prescribe a low-strength corticosteroid and will tell you how often to apply it. It's important that you follow your dermatologist's dosing schedule closely.
Corticosteroids work by controlling your inflammatory response. This allows them to reduce the swelling and redness in the areas of your skin that are affected by psoriasis.
While topical corticosteroids are an effective treatment, they can't be used for a long period of time. Long-term use of these drugs can lead to skin complications like thinning skin, pigmentation changes, or redness. Another problem with long-term use is that your skin can eventually stop responding to these drugs, which necessitates the use of other treatments.
If you're concerned about the side effects of corticosteroids, or if corticosteroids have stopped working for you, salicylic acid is another treatment option. Salicylic acid comes in many forms including creams, ointments, cleansers, and even shampoos, and is available both over-the-counter and by prescription.
Salicylic acid is the same chemical that is used to remove warts. It works by softening and loosening your scaly skin. This makes the scaly areas easier to remove.
It's important to only apply the product to the affected areas of your skin to avoid damaging the healthy areas. When salicylic acid is exposed to healthy skin, it can cause problems like irritation or burns. Consider applying a barrier of petroleum jelly to your healthy skin to avoid inadvertently damaging your tissues.
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is another way to treat psoriasis. During this treatment, your entire body will be exposed to ultraviolet light until your skin turns slightly pink. The treatment is repeated several times a week until your psoriasis symptoms improve. Light therapy is usually effective, though an average of 20 sessions are required to see results.
When you have psoriasis, your skin cells grow too quickly, and this is why you develop scaly patches of excess skin. Light therapy works by slowing down the growth of these new skin cells.
The risks associated with light therapy are the same as the risks of exposure to real sunlight. Possible side effects include sunburns, premature aging, or skin cancer. Your dermatologist will monitor your UV exposure to keep you safe from these complications, though it's also important for you to avoid excessive sun exposure outside of your treatments.
Biologic medications, also known as immunomodulator therapies, are injectable drugs that can be used when other treatments don't work. These medications are given every other week and are self-administered, though if you're not comfortable giving yourself injections, your dermatologist can do it for you.
These drugs work by blocking a chemical called TNF-alpha. This chemical is responsible for telling your cells to become inflamed, so when it's blocked, your skin will become less inflamed and irritated.
These drugs are immunosuppressants, so you'll have an increased risk of infections and illnesses while you're taking them. Biologic medications are a relatively new treatment, so there isn't a lot of data regarding long-term safety. However, if nothing else works to treat your psoriasis, you and your dermatologist may decide that biologic medications are worth the risk.
If you have psoriasis, see your dermatologist to discuss treatment options. You can find a dermatologist online by visiting a site like http://ADCderm.com.