What are the treatments for psoriasis?

Treatment of psoriasis. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are a number of treatments that can help relieve your symptoms. Treatments vary in how effective they are for different people and you may need to try several before you find one that works for you.


Self-help
Your doctor may advise you to use emollients – creams or lotions that moisten, soften and soothe your skin. Having a warm bath may help to soften your psoriasis – your doctor may suggest adding bath oil.


Medicines
Topical treatments
These are treatments that you apply to your skin. Your doctor may prescribe you a medicated cream or ointment – the type and strength will depend on your psoriasis, but common treatments include the following.
Coal tar preparations can reduce inflammation and scaling, and are often used to treat psoriasis affecting your scalp. However, they can be smelly and messy.
• Creams that contain dithranol can be very effective, but they are messy and can irritate healthy skin, so they aren’t often prescribed.
• Steroid preparations are often used for localised psoriasis (for example, on your elbows or knees). You may be able to use stronger steroids on your palms and soles, or your scalp. Generally, steroid creams are only used short-term.
• Vitamin D derivatives (such as calcipotriol or tacalcitol) can be easier to use than some of the other products, but may irritate your skin.
Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) can be useful, but they are prone to causing skin irritation.


Always ask your doctor for advice and read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.


Oral medicines
If topical treatments don't control your symptoms, or if your psoriasis is extensive, you may be prescribed medicines that you take as tablets, such as:
methotrexate
acitretin
• ciclosporin
• hydroxycarbamide

These medicines work by suppressing your immune system, or by slowing down the production of skin cells. They can have severe side-effects and need to be prescribed by a doctor.

Women will be warned not to become pregnant while taking these medicines and, in some circumstances, for some time afterwards. With some of the tablets, men will also be advised that they shouldn't get their partner pregnant. This is because these medicines can cause serious damage to an unborn baby.

Biological medicines are newer treatments for psoriasis that can be very effective, but tend to be restricted to people with severe psoriasis, or if other treatments haven’t worked. They are given as an injection into your skin, or through a drip into a vein in your arm. These medicines include:
etanercept
adalimumab
infliximab
ustekinumab


Your doctor can discuss these treatments with you. You will need to have various pre-treatment tests before you can try these medicines and you will be monitored with blood tests while you're receiving the treatment.


Always ask your doctor for advice and read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.

Availability and use of medicines may vary from country to country.
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Related Questions

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