Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by dry, red patches of rash. Usually, they are on the elbows, knees, and scalp. These patches develop due to an abnormally high rate of skin cell growth. This then increases skin inflammation. It’s still unknown as to the reason for this growth. We do know that certain genes may play a role in this autoimmune disease.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are ways to treat it. Treatments will suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. It also stops skin cells from growing too quickly and helps repair the skin.
There are already a number of treatment options on the market. However, researchers are continuously looking for the best treatment for psoriasis. Psoriasis never goes away fully. There are periods of remission and flare-ups, though.
The best approach to treating psoriasis involves a combination of drugs and therapies. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle while avoiding triggers is also effective.
The response to therapy varies from one person to another. While one drug may be the best treatment for one person, it could actually make symptoms worse in another. For this reason, work with a dermatologist to find the right treatment for your psoriasis.
Topical Psoriasis Treatments
Topical treatments are creams, sometimes medicated, you can apply to psoriasis rashes. There are many types and finding the right one for you is essential.
These are the first-line therapy for mild to moderate psoriasis cases. They’re available in different strengths as ointments, creams, shampoos, and other forms. Hydrocortisone is a mild corticosteroid, while triamcinolone and clobetasol are stronger options.
Synthetic Vitamin D
Synthetic Vitamin D like calcipotriene helps reduce skin cell growth. You can use it either alone or in combination with topical steroids. Synthetic Vitamin D may cause skin irritation and is more costly than topical steroids.
Vitamin A Derivatives or Retinoids
These creams or gels are another options for managing psoriatic lesions. Be careful using these, those. They increase sensitivity to light and could irritate the skin. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using them.
Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus
We classify these in the calcineurin inhibitor drug class. These creams are useful for sensitive areas of the skin such as around the eyes. Do not take these during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. They do also carry a warning on the box stating a potential risk of cancer associated with use.
Salicylic Acid and Coal Tar
These two treatments help reduce skin inflammation and lesions. They’re available in scalp solutions and shampoos. Coal tar along with light therapy is more effective and called Goeckerman therapy.
Phototherapy or Light Therapy
Phototherapy is one of the first therapy choices to treat moderate and severe psoriasis. You can use the treatment alone or combine it with other drugs.
This therapy involves exposure to natural sunlight or using special devices based on UVB light. Narrowband UVB therapy seems more effective. However, it’s more likely to cause severe burns compared to broadband UVB treatment.
Another option is the excimer laser, which involves fewer treatments. this is because the UVB light is stronger. It can also cause skin redness and blisters.
Oral and Injectable Drugs
Oral and injectable drugs are also effective psoriasis treatments. These types of drugs include steroid injections, retinoid pills, and methotrexate injections. Those with moderate to severe psoriasis resort to these treatments if topical medication and phototherapy didn’t help. Cyclosporine and biologics like etanercept, adalimumab, infliximab, and ixekizumab are other options.
Carefully evaluate the benefits and risks of these psoriasis treatments with your doctor. People who take methotrexate must monitor their liver function and blood counts. Those who take cyclosporine need to check their kidney function and blood pressure.
To take biologics, doctors screen patients for infections like tuberculosis. They’re also more expensive compared to the other drugs. Biologics, cyclosporine, and methotrexate are immunosuppressants that carry the risk of infections and cancer.
Improving sleep is also important. Sleep can be interrupted due to itchiness, pain, depression, and sleep apnea associated with psoriasis. Lack of sleep also increases the risk of gaining weight, which is a risk factor for psoriasis. For better sleep, the room should be completely dark, cool temperature, and no electronic devices. Wear blue light-blocking glasses when using electronic devices after sunset. This also promotes healthier sleep.
Managing stress is important because it’s a well-known trigger for psoriasis. To reduce stress, introduce meditation, yoga, stretching, and breathing exercises to your routine.
Other triggers for psoriasis include:
Infections like strep and HIV
Certain drugs (beta-blockers, chloroquine, lithium, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and indomethacin)
Finding the Best Psoriasis Treatment for You
To find the best psoriasis treatment, you should consult your dermatologist. First, educate yourself about the chronic condition and determine the triggers. Try topical treatments and phototherapy if your case is mild or moderate. Lastly, talk to your doctor about other medications you can take if these treatments don’t work.