Most psoriasis treatment strategies involve a combination of psoriasis medications and outpatient procedures. Medications typically work to reduce inflammation, increase skin cell turnover, and alter the immune system, tackling every known psoriasis cause through a series of treatments. In most cases, these medications are recommended for short-term use, typically during flare-ups, as side effects can be severe. Psoriasis manifests differently from person to person, so talk to your doctor about specific medications that might work for you.
Corticosteroids for Psoriasis Medications
Topical corticosteroids are among the most prescribed psoriasis medications. These medicines can both reduce inflammation and relieve itching in cases of mild to moderate psoriasis. Corticosteroids are available in a range of strengths, so you may have a milder ointment for sensitive areas, like the face, and a stronger product for less sensitive areas, like the elbows and knees.
It is important to know that long-term use of corticosteroids will cause additional side effects, such as the thinning of skin. Additionally, topical corticosteroids can stop working over time. As a result, most dermatologists only prescribe this treatment in short-term bursts, typically during flare-ups. You may also be recommended an additional medication to help mitigate any potential corticosteroid side effects.
Psoriasis flares are the result of an overactive immune system. Some doctors choose to tackle these rashes by stifling the immune response. There are several psoriasis medications available for this purpose, including methotrexate and cyclosporine. However, these drugs are known to increase your risk of developing infections and other health problems, such as cancer. Most doctors will therefore strategically stagger treatments to ensure you receive the care you need while attempting to minimize side effects.
There are several biologics approved for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis. Most are provided via injection and work to alter the immune system. In most cases, biologics are recommended to patients for whom previous treatments have not worked. Doctors are aware that biologics must be used with caution, as they can have a very strong effect on the immune system. However, for patients with severe cases and few alternatives, they can significantly change a person’s outlook.
Other Psoriasis Medications
- Vitamin D: Some synthetic forms of vitamin D have been shown to slow skin cell growth. However, vitamin D can irritate skin for some patients, so talk to your doctor about whether you should use this to supplement another psoriasis medication.
- Salicylic Acid: This chemical exfoliator promotes skin turn-over and regeneration, reducing scaling and removing dead skin cells. This psoriasis medication is often combined with other products. Take note that salicylic acid can sometimes contribute to dry skin.
- Calcineurin Inhibitors: These psoriasis medications can reduce inflammation and plaque buildup, but they are not recommended for long-term use. Using calcineurin inhibitors may increase your risk of developing skin cancer and lymphoma, but they can be especially helpful for people experiencing psoriasis around the eyes.
- Moisturizers: While topical moisturizers won’t heal psoriasis or change your flare-up cycle, they can help reduce some symptoms. Moisturizers may reduce itching, scaling, and dryness, especially when applied immediately after a shower. Prioritize products without fragrances and alcohols, as these can hinder the moisturizing properties.
Most psoriasis medications are only available with a doctor’s prescription. If you have psoriasis and are looking for symptom relief, contact us to schedule an appointment. One of our dermatologists will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help minimize symptoms and mitigate side effects.
*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.