The goal of treatment is to control your symptoms and prevent infection.
Three treatment options are available:
- Skin lotions, ointments, creams, and shampoos. These are called topical treatments.
- Pills or injections that affect the body's immune response, not just the skin. These are called systemic, or body-wide, treatments.
- Phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet light to treat psoriasis.
TREATMENTS USED ON THE SKIN (TOPICAL)
Most of the time, psoriasis is treated with medicines that are placed directly on the skin or scalp. These may include:
- Cortisone creams and ointments
- Creams or ointments that contain coal tar or anthralin (an anti-inflammatory drug)
- Creams to remove the scaling (usually salicylic acid or lactic acid)
- Dandruff shampoos (over-the-counter or prescription)
- Prescription medicines containing vitamin D or vitamin A (retinoids)
SYSTEMIC (BODY-WIDE) TREATMENTS
If you have very severe psoriasis, your doctor will likely recommend medicines that suppress the immune system's faulty response. These medicines include methotrexate or cyclosporine. Retinoids can also be used, but these work differently from medicines that suppress the immune system.
Newer drugs called biologics are used when other treatments do not work. Biologics approved for the treatment of psoriasis include:
- Adalimumab (Humira)
- Etanercept (Enbrel)
- Infliximab (Remicade)
Some people may choose to have phototherapy. This treatment:
- Carefully exposes your skin to ultraviolet light
- May be given alone or after you take a drug that makes the skin sensitive to light
- Can be given as ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light
If you have an infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
AT HOME CARE
Following these tips at home may help:
- Taking a daily bath or shower. Try not to scrub too hard because this can irritate the skin and trigger a flare-up.
- Soaking in an oatmeal bath. This may be soothing and may help loosen scales. You can use over-the-counter oatmeal bath products. Or, you can mix 1 cup of plain oatmeal into a tub of warm water.
- Keeping your skin clean and moist, and avoiding your specific psoriasis triggers. This may help reduce the number of flare-ups.
- Exposing your skin to sunlight. This may help your symptoms go away, but be careful not to get sunburned.
- Using relaxation and anti-stress techniques. The link between stress and flare-ups of psoriasis is not well understood, however.
- Limiting alcoholic beverages. This may help keep psoriasis from getting worse.