What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. There are five types of psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis, Guttate, Inverse, Pustular, and Erythrodermic. Psoriasis can show up anywhere—on the eyelids, ears, mouth and lips, skin folds, hands and feet, and nails. The skin at each of these sites is different and requires different treatments.
Psoriasis treatments can be divided into three main types: topical treatments, light therapy and systemic medications.
- Topical Treatments
Topical treatments include topical corticosteroids. These powerful anti-inflammatory drugs are the most frequently prescribed medications for treating mild to moderate psoriasis. They slow cell turnover by suppressing the immune system, which reduces inflammation and relieves associated itching. Topical corticosteroids range in strength, from mild to very strong.
- Light Therapy
Light therapy or phototherapy uses natural or artificial ultraviolet light. The simplest and easiest form of phototherapy involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. Other forms of light therapy include the use of artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light either alone or in combination with medications.
- Systemic medications include retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and biologics.
- Retinoids: Related to vitamin A, this group of drugs may reduce the production of skin cells if you have severe psoriasis that doesn’t respond to other therapies.
- Methotrexate: Taken orally, methotrexate helps psoriasis by decreasing the production of skin cells and suppressing inflammation. It may also slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis in some people.
- Cyclosporine: Cyclosporine suppresses the immune system and is similar to methotrexate in effectiveness. Like other immunosuppressant drugs, cyclosporine increases your risk of infection and other health problems, including cancer.
- Biologics: These are drugs that alter the immune system. Several immunomodulator drugs are approved for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis. They include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira) and ustekinumab (Stelara). These drugs are given by intravenous infusion, intramuscular injection or subcutaneous injection.
While there is no known cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options. ClearlyDerm will help you determine which option will be most effective for you.