4 Benefits of Changing Psoriasis Treatment

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the skin to produce new cells too rapidly, leading to the formation of thick, itchy, and scaly patches of skin. Treatment is aimed at decreasing inflammation and slowing down cell growth, often by acting on the immune system.

Psoriasis patients are often told by their doctors to expect several treatment changes over the course of their disease. If you are someone who is simply looking for relief from this chronic, uncomfortable skin condition, this can sound like a discouraging statement. However, there are a number of beneficial reasons for changing your psoriasis medication over time.

Understanding Psoriasis

1. Your psoriasis may be better controlled.

Though there is still not a cure for psoriasis, treatments have come a long way. In the past, doctors and patients may have been satisfied with moderate improvement of psoriasis, but with the development of new medications, such as biologics, patients can strive for better outcomes. Some are even able to achieve complete clearance of all psoriasis lesions.

Doctors don’t always know what treatment will be the most effective for your psoriasis, and even one that has worked well in the past may eventually stop working. Failure of one medication does not predict failure of others, even within the same class. So if your treatment goals are not being met, reach out to your doctor. There may be other options to try.

2. Your new treatment may be more compatible with your lifestyle… or your wallet.

The best medication in the world won’t do you any good if you have difficulty taking or using it as you should. While the severity of your disease will impact your treatment options, you may be able to work with your doctor to select a method that works best for you.

Psoriasis treatments come in all forms- applied directly to the skin, taken by mouth, or given as an injection or IV infusion. Do you have a hard time remembering to take a pill every day? Maybe there is a once a week option available. Do you cringe at the thought of giving yourself a shot? Perhaps you can switch to one that is administered in the doctor’s office.

Some of the newest medications to treat psoriasis can be quite expensive. If your insurance won’t cover it or if your out-of-pocket costs are too high, bring this up with your doctor. You may find a more affordable, yet effective, solution.

3. It is for your own safety.

Many psoriasis treatments also have significant side effects, making it dangerous to remain on them for an extended amount of time. For example, methotrexate, an oral medication, can cause liver damage and decrease the number of red and white blood cells and platelets. Some of the newer biologic drugs may increase the risk of serious infections due to their effect on the immune system. Your doctor may choose to cycle you through different treatments to avoid these complications.

4. An old medication may work again.

Your body can sometimes build up a resistance to a medication over time. For this reason, some doctors will change your treatment periodically to prevent this from happening. On the flip side, occasionally after an extended time off a medication that stopped working, you may be able to resume it successfully.

Keep a positive outlook, and take an active role in the management of your psoriasis. Though you may have a lifelong disease, your doctor’s goal is to make treatment changes that improve your quality of life.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 6

  1. A comparison of psoriasis drug failure rates and reasons for discontinuation in biologics vs conventional systemic therapies. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25007369. Accessed February 14, 2017.

  2. Kerdel F, Zaiac M. An evolution in switching therapy for psoriasis patients who fail to meet treatment goals. Dermatologic Therapy. 2015;28(6):390-403. doi:10.1111/dth.12267.

  3. Psoriasis Treatments and Drugs. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/treatment/con-20030838

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