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Diseases & Conditions

Treatment

Treatment

There are many treatments for psoriasis. Some treatments slow the production of new skin cells while others relieve itching and dry skin. Inflammation in the skin is an important part of psoriasis and many treatments reduce inflammation. Your health care provider will select a treatment plan depending on the seriousness of the rash, where it is on your body, your age, health and other factors.

Common treatments include:

  • Steroid creams
  • Moisturizers (to relieve dry skin)
  • Anthralin (a medicine that slows skin cell production)
  • Coal-tar (common for scalp psoriasis; may also be used with light therapy for severe cases; available in lotions, shampoos and bath solutions)
  • Vitamin D3 ointment, called Dovonex, a special form ordered by your health care provider, (Vitamin D in foods and vitamin pills has no effect on psoriasis.)

Treatment for severe cases:

  • Light therapy (ultraviolet light at specific wavelengths decreases inflammation in the skin and helps to slow the production of skin cells)
  • PUVA (treatment that combines a medicine called "psoralen" with exposure to a special form of ultraviolet light)
  • Methotrexate (a medicine taken by the mouth; Methotrexate can cause liver disease, so its use is limited to severe cases and is carefully watched with blood tests and sometimes liver biopsies.)
  • Retinoids (a special form of Vitamin A-related drugs; Retinoids can cause serious side effects, including birth defects. Brand names of retinoids are Soriatane and Tazorac.) Vitamin A in foods and vitamin pills has no effect on psoriasis.
  • Cyclosporine (a very effective capsule reserved for severe psoriasis because it can cause high blood pressure and damage to kidneys).
  • Newer drugs for treating psoriasis include Amevive, Raptiva, and Enbrel. All three are given by injection and belong to a group of drugs known as biologic therapies. They work by blocking the body's immune system from "kick-starting" an autoimmune disease such as psoriasis.

Tips for improving psoriasis in addition to prescription medicines:

  • Use moisturizer.
  • Avoid using harsh soaps.
  • Apply oil or moisturizer after bathing.
  • Expose psoriasis to moderate sunlight.
  • Use a tar shampoo every other night.