A number of skin conditions result in red, itchy skin, but psoriasis can be especially distressing, sometimes causing pain, joint stiffness, and bleeding. If you suffer from this ailment, you may know that psoriasis symptoms sometimes lie dormant for long stretches of time. When they return, however, they can disrupt your life, worsen your mood, and hurt your confidence. But while psoriasis cannot be cured, the good news is its symptoms can be treated in a number of ways.
Broadly speaking, psoriasis treatments fall into three categories: topical medications, oral or injected drugs, and phototherapy (light therapies). Each category includes various treatments that aim to alleviate psoriasis symptoms in different ways, some more effective than others. That said, there is no ultimate or best treatment for psoriasis, as everyone’s circumstances are unique. One patient might respond well to one treatment while another might require another. So, here is a list of the 10 best treatments for psoriasis, one of which (or more) might be right for you.
Topical corticosteroids can be rubbed on affected areas of the skin to ease inflammation and itching for moderate or mild psoriasis. Your doctor might recommend also applying this ointment to sensitive parts of your skin to prevent additional flare-ups. For the best results, corticosteroids for psoriasis are recommended for short-term use, only during symptom outbreaks.
2. Calcineurin Inhibitors
An alternative to corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors also lower skin inflammation in psoriasis patients, just via a different mechanism. As their name suggests, these immunosuppressant drugs restrict the movement of calcineurin, an enzyme responsible for T-cell (white blood cell) activity. Calcineurin inhibitors can be taken orally or topically, and they are also recommended for short-term use to mitigate health risks.
Unlike corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors, anthralin is meant for the long-term treatment of psoriasis and more severe flare-ups. Anthralin hinders the growth of skin cells, making it a worthy opponent of psoriasis, which hastens skin cell growth. This topical medication is potent and must be applied to the skin or scalp carefully and for a short time (usually 10 minutes to a half-hour, as directed by your doctor) to avoid irritation.
Both over-the-counter and prescription-strength moisturizers can combat psoriasis symptoms by keeping your skin hydrated, which reduces dryness and itching. Those with psoriasis should incorporate a trusted moisturizing ointment into their regular skincare routine to keep outbreaks at bay.
5. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a common topical treatment for many skin conditions, including warts, acne, dandruff, and, of course, psoriasis. This organic acid promotes the shedding of the upper layer of skin, removing dead skin cells and reducing dryness, scaling, and itching. Salicylic acid can be an effective treatment on its own but sometimes is used in conjunction with other psoriasis treatments.
Like salicylic acid, retinoids can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. These drugs are derived from Vitamin A, and they can reduce inflammation and slow down the rapid cell production caused by psoriasis. Oral retinoids tend to be more potent than topical retinoids, but both can cause skin irritation in some patients.
Biologics are typically injectable drugs that alter targeted areas of your immune system. A number of biologics are useful for moderate and severe cases of psoriasis, especially when combined with other treatments like phototherapy. That said, biologics should not be taken by those with compromised immune systems or active infections, as these drugs can have many adverse effects.
This oral psoriasis medication limits skin cell production and reduces inflammation. Methotrexate should be taken in small doses and is typically prescribed for short-term use to avoid side effects and health risks.
Unlike biologics, immunosuppressants like Cyclosporine affect your entire immune system, which makes them effective against psoriasis symptoms but also potentially dangerous unless if taken long-term. These oral drugs are prescribed for more severe psoriasis cases and must be taken exactly as directed.
Lastly, phototherapy, also known as light therapy, presents an alternative to topical, oral, and injectable treatments for mild and moderate psoriasis. Phototherapy provides your skin with controlled amounts of UV radiation, whether from the sun or artificial sources. These rays penetrate the skin and slow down skin cell production. In some cases, a laser can be used to focus a beam of UVB rays on affected areas of the skin.
As you can see, there is no shortage of treatment options for your psoriasis. The key is finding the right psoriasis treatment for you. The best way to find out is by speaking with and visiting a medical professional. The staff at Premier Dermatology has the expertise to help you find a psoriasis treatment that works for you and your skin. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.