Find out your dermatological treatment options for psoriasis at Colorado Springs Dermatology Clinic, P.C.:
A chronic autoimmune disease that appears on the skin, psoriasis is caused when the body’s immune system sends out erroneous signals that speed up the growth of skin cells. There are several forms of the disease, the most common of which is plaque psoriasis, appearing as raised, red patches covered with a white buildup of dead skin cells called plaque. Along with these patches, the condition causes intense pain, itching and burning. Often experienced in conjunction with other serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and depression, the disease can crop up anywhere on the body.
Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, several treatments to reduce or eliminate symptoms are available. Your dermatologist can help develop a personalized course of treatment for your particular case. Keep in mind that you and your physician may have to keep trying until the right treatment or combination of treatments is found.
What Kinds of Medications Are Used for Psoriasis?
Usually the first treatment your physician will try will be topical medications that are applied to the skin in cream or ointment. Available over the counter or by prescription, these medications slow down or normalize cell reduction, thus reducing inflammation. Corticosteroids are a good first line of offense as they act as anti-inflammatory agents to reduce swelling and redness. Creams may also include anthralin, vitamin D3 and vitamin A, and FDA-approved active ingredients are salicylic acid and coal tar.
Individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis may be prescribed systemic medications, pharmaceuticals that work on the entire body. These prescription medications may be administered orally or by injection and include cyclosporine, methotrexate and acitretin.
New Oral Medications
Recently new oral treatment options for psoriasis have been approved. Sometimes called ‘small-molecule’ treatments, the medications are taken orally and work by correcting the overactive immune response that causes psoriasis symptoms. Otezia® (apremilast) has been found to reduce the redness and scaliness of the disease, and the mediation can be used with phototherapy and topicals or with methotrexate.
Reserved for moderate or severe cases or those that have not responded to other treatments, biologic medications are protein-based compounds developed from live cells cultured in a laboratory. Unlike traditional systemic drugs, biologics can target very specific parts of the immune system, including the proteins that have been found to contribute to development of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritic. Biologics are administered intravenously and include Humira® and Remicade®.
Are There Non-Pharmaceutical Psoriasis Treatments?
In some cases, your physician may recommend trying light therapy or laser treatments for psoriasis.
Your doctor may recommend the use of phototherapy or light therapy for your psoriasis treatment, procedures involving exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light administered in a special phototherapy unit. During the course of treatment, your skin may get worse initially due to aggravation caused by reaction to the UBV light, in which case the amount of UBV administered by be reduced. However, with continued treatment improvement should become evident. On occasion, UBV may be combined with systemic therapies.
Psoralen and UVA (PUVA)
A combination of ultraviolet light and a light-sensitizing medication called psoralen, PUVA has been found to slow abnormal cell growth and alleviate psoriasis symptoms for various lengths of time. Side effects of the treatment include nausea, itching and redness which can be alleviated with antihistamines, topical products or oatmeal baths.
Laser treatments have been found effective for some localized psoriasis plaques. Recently FDA-approved for psoriasis, the excimer laser targets localized plaques with a high-intensity ultraviolet light B (UBV) beam. Recommended for mild to moderate cases, the excimer laser may be used with topical therapies. It may take four to 10 sessions to see improvement.
Pulsed Dye Laser
Also used for treating chronic, localized plaques, this laser treatment combines use of a dye and a different light wavelength from other lasers. Four to six 15- to 30-minute sessions are normally required to see improvement.