Psoriasis treatments are discussed below. Click here to go directly to Psoriatic Arthritis Treatments.
How is psoriasis treated?
Because each case of psoriasis seems different from the next, and because there is no cure, psoriasis treatments are varied, and run the gamut from cutting-edge prescription therapies to flim-flam artists selling potions that do nothing but separate psoriasis patients from their money. Even among legitimate psoriasis treatments, the range is vast, and includes ultraviolet light treatments, topical creams and lotions applied directly to the affected skin, pills taken orally, injections administered by the patient at home or by a nurse at a medical facility, and things like stress reduction techniques.
Access to treatments is increasingly a challenge for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients, as some of the newer treatments can cost $15,000 to $25,000 – or more – annually. Even those with insurance can sometimes be required to pay thousands annually in co-pays, depending on the insurance company and the coverage rules. [No insurance? Money tight? Psoriasis bad? Here are some ideas to help you find some relief: Psoriasis Treatment Strategies for the Uninsured.]
Scalp psoriasis is one of the more challenging areas to treat. Read more about scalp psoriasis treatments.
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Topicals consist of creams, lotions, ointments, foam-based and shampoo products applied directly to the skin or scalp to provide relief from psoriasis symptoms. They are the first-line treatment for psoriasis, especially for milder forms of the disease. As psoriasis becomes more widespread, topical treatments may prove insufficient.
For the better part of a century, ultraviolet light has been used to treat psoriasis, but even Ben Franklin, writing in 1780, noticed that his psoriasis improved in the summer (Franklin surmised it was the summer heat, although we now know it was probably the ultraviolet rays of the sun that were responsible for most of this improvement).
While just getting outside in the sun works wonders for many psoriasis patients, there are also special lightbulbs that emit ultraviolet light that is very effective at treating psoriasis. Read more about narrowband UVB, broadband UVB, and PUVA here.
There are several drugs that are FDA-approved for psoriasis treatment. Three of them are typically taken orally: methotrexate, cyclosporine and acitretin (Soriatane). All three are effective psoriasis treatments, but each has its own serious potential side-effects, presenting some challenging trade-offs for psoriasis patients who need relief from painful or disabling psoriasis.
Biologic therapies are treatments that have been derived from human or animal proteins. Biologics for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are designed to target specific processes in the immune system that cause psoriasis flares. The goal is to bring relief from psoriasis without broadly impairing the immune system. Five biologics are currently FDA-approved for treating psoriasis: Stelara (ustekinumab), Remicade (infliximab), Humira (adalimumab), Enbrel (etanercept), and Amevive (alefacept). Four are approved for treating psoriatic arthritis: Enbrel, Humira, Remicade and Simponi (golimumab).
The treatment pipeline
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are currently investigating more than 70 new potential psoriasis treatments! So our treatment arsenal is expected to grow further in the coming years. The psoriasis community should keep pushing for additional treatments and improved access to proven therapies until every psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patient finds relief.