Advances in Psoriasis Treatment

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9 Tips for Keeping Up With New Psoriasis Treatments

  • psoriasis-text-with-pills
    What’s Good Now—and What Might Be Better Later
    If you have the chronic skin disease psoriasis, chances are that you’ve already started trying to find the right treatment. Typically, psoriasis treatments fall into one of three categories: systemic medications, topical treatments and light therapy. One—or more—of those treatments may be the right treatment for your psoriasis. It may be helpful to read up on what’s available now and what’s appropriate for your condition while also keeping your eyes open for any new developments in treatments that might even be more effective.

  • UV light therapy hand
    1. Try the first line treatments.
    Some treatments have been around a long time. The reason you’re still hearing about them is that they work well enough that many people still use them. Doctors often recommend starting with topical treatments like corticosteroids or UV light therapy because they can improve psoriasis symptoms enough to bring relief. This might be a good place to start, and you can rule out the ones that don’t work for you.

  • Tablets
    2. Familiarize yourself with the traditional medications.
    For some people, small amounts of sunlight or nonprescription topical creams aren’t enough to improve symptoms of psoriasis. That’s when they turn to traditional prescription medications that work throughout the entire body—also known as systemic medications. They’ve been widely prescribed for more than a decade and include cyclosporine and methotrexate, as well as retinoids like acitretin. They can be very effective, but they can also have some pretty serious side effects, so you might not be able to use them for long periods of time without taking breaks.

  • medication
    3. Ask about off-label medicines.
    Sometimes a prescription medication that wasn’t originally designed to treat psoriasis can be an option. These off-label systemic medications, including the oral retinoid isotretinoid and the anti-rejection drug mycophenolate mofetil, can be effective for moderate to severe cases. Usually there are some big side effects associated with them, however, so be sure to discuss that with your doctor.

  • Female Scientist Looking Through Microscope
    4. Consider biologic drug treatment.
    A medication administered by IV infusion or injection, biologic drugs are more commonly used today than they were even a decade ago. Time has taught us a lot about their effectiveness and safety in the treatment of psoriasis. These medications target specific parts of your immune system, rather than your entire system. The options include infliximab (Remicade), secukinumab (Cosentyx), adalimumab (Humira), ixekizumab (Taltz), etanercept (Enbrel), and ustekinumab (Stelara). However, if you are immunocompromised in any way, meaning your immune system is weak, this may not be the route for you. Also, these medications tend to be much more expensive than the other types of therapies, and it’s possible that your insurance company won’t pay for them unless you’ve already tried other, cheaper medications first without significant improvement.

  • Pills
    5. Look into the new oral medicines.
    You might find some relief with one of the newer oral treatments on the market. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, these medications work by targeting certain molecules within your immune cells and correct your body’s overactive immune response that leads to the psoriasis inflammation. Apremilast, which is sold under the brand name Otezla, is one option for controlling the inflammation, as well as improving redness and scaliness. You can also take this medication in conjunction with light therapy or topical treatments. But it can also cause weight loss in some people, which may or may not be a problem for you.

  • ointment-on-finger
    6. Consider vitamin D.
    There’s a wide variety of topical treatments available, and a relatively new version on the market in the U.S. is one called calcitriol. It’s a topical vitamin D analogue that has been available since about 2009, even though calcipotriene (Rocaltrol), another type of vitamin D analogue, has been used for many years. These treatments are supposed to slow down the growth of skin cells, which unfortunately can also make them somewhat irritating, although calcitriol is reportedly less irritating than calcipotriene.

  • laser treatment
    7. Look at the latest laser treatment.
    In the past, phototherapy usually involved spending a few minutes each day sitting outside in the sunlight or using a UVB light on a consistent schedule. But in recent years, advances in technology have led to the use of a targeted method of phototherapy that uses a special kind of laser to provide targeted amounts of UVB light to your skin. It can increase your chances of burns, however, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor if you’re interested in it.

  • Female scientist pipetting DNA samples for testing
    8. Keep watching therapies in development.
    While some biologics are already on the market, still others are in development. So the most promising treatments may still be on the horizon. Some that are in the pipeline include therapies like brodalumab and briakinumab, which means the medications are working to address specific mechanisms that cause an autoimmune response, leading to inflammation. Scientists and researchers are also closely examining “small molecule” therapies—that is, therapies that use certain small molecules to interrupt the signaling between cells that can cause or worsen inflammation. As clinical trials progress, we may see some of these drugs hitting the market in the future.

  • Seal in Moisture
    9. Embrace lifestyle measures that help you.
    Maybe the perfect medication or therapy for you and your psoriasis hasn’t hit the market yet. Don’t give up. And keep up with any self-help measures that provide some relief. Maybe a daily oatmeal bath with warm water helps calm your skin. Or perhaps you have discovered a favorite moisturizer that never fails to elicit an “ahhhhhhh” when you apply it to your skin. Go with those strategies! And try to avoid any triggers that cause your psoriasis to worsen.

9 Tips for Keeping Up With New Psoriasis Treatments

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Meffert J. Psoriasis Treatment & Management. Medscape. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1943419-treatment
  2. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis: Biologic Drugs. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/biologics
  3. New Oral Treatments. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/oral-treatments
  4. Phototherapy. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/phototherapy
  5. Psoriasis: Treatment and Drugs. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/treatment/con-20030838
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Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 8
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