You and your doctor are partners in finding the most appropriate treatments for your psoriasis. Becoming familiar with different psoriasis treatments will help you discuss them when your doctor recommends one treatment type or another.
Psoriasis treatments generally fall into one of three categories, including:
One of the most common treatment options, topicals, are usually the first medication your doctor will prescribe after you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis. They come in different forms, like creams, ointments, gels, or foam. Topicals work on top of the skin, where the symptoms appear – not under the skin, where symptoms start. Applying topicals directly on plaques can help slow the growth of skin cells.
Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, also works on the surface of your skin. Using special lamps that shine UV rays directly onto your plaques can slow down the growth of affected skin cells.
This type of treatment works throughout the body. For example, this type of treatment can be taken orally or by injection.
Biologics are an advanced type of treatment typically for moderate to severe psoriasis patients. They target and help block specific parts of your immune system. They’re usually taken by injection or infusion, because they work from the inside of your body.
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Dr. Armstrong Hi, I'm Dr. April Armstrong. I've been treating psoriasis patients for 10 years. Something I've noticed when I get a new psoriasis patient is that they're often frustrated by their current treatment plan. One patient even told me he felt like he was on a “treatment treadmill”: treating his psoriasis the same way over and over, without even knowing why. That’s why it’s so important to learn about the different types of psoriasis treatments out there. So let’s get started. First things first, it’s important to know that there’s no cure for plaque psoriasis. But there are many treatment types available depending on the type and the severity of psoriasis you have. Since psoriasis affects everybody differently, the key is to learn about the different treatment types and work with a dermatologist to find a treatment plan that’s right for you. Plaque psoriasis treatments are divided into 3 main types: topicals, phototherapy, and systemics. You may have heard of topicals already, because they’re the most commonly used treatments for psoriasis. They come in different forms, like creams, ointments, gels, or foam, and just like the name sounds, you apply topicals on to the top of your skin, on to the plaques you can see. By applying topicals directly on to your plaques, they slow the growth of skin cells. The second type of treatment is called phototherapy, or light therapy. Phototherapy also works on the surface of your skin; this time, using a special kind of light called UV rays. Special lamps shine UV rays directly onto your plaques, and slow down the growth of affected skin cells. The third type of treatment – called systemics – work from inside the body. So to get inside, systemics have to be taken as a pill, or for some systemics called biologics, by an infusion or injection. These are reserved for people who have moderate or severe cases of plaque psoriasis. Why do they get systemics? Remember, psoriasis is an immune disease that’s active underneath your skin. Instead of just working to fight off a cold or flu like your immune system normally does, it can get “turned on” by mistake at any time and start working overtime, causing skin cells to grow faster than your body can handle. That’s why one method of treatment is to target the immune system. Systemics tone down your immune system throughout your body, and slow down the number of skin cells being made. Every psoriasis patient is different, and not all treatments are for everybody. So if a treatment doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Talk with your dermatologist. I ask my patients to tell me what they want out of their treatment, and then I can tell them what they can expect. I encourage you to do the same thing. So if you’re feeling stuck on a treatment treadmill, work with your dermatologist, and together you can find a treatment plan that’s right for you.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but it is treatable. Watch the video to learn about the different types of treatment available for managing psoriasis.
No matter what the type or severity of your psoriasis, it’s clear that living with the condition can be a challenge.