There are a range of treatment options for psoriasis, but achieving a long term reduction in symptoms can be challenging. Traditional treatments, such as topical medication and phototherapy, can be effective, but new types of biological medication provide a more hopeful outlook for long term sufferers. Biological treatments have fewer side effects and a greater chance of a success.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that’s caused by the rapid reproduction of cells. In normal regions of skin, cells take around a month to move from the bottom of the epidermis to the surface, but in areas affected by psoriasis this process takes less than a week. The result is crusty and dry patches of skin, which are often uncomfortable and itchy. While the physical symptoms of psoriasis are relatively mild, the condition can cause emotional distress.
What Are The Most Common Treatments For Psoriasis?
Current treatments for psoriasis include topical medication, phototherapy and oral tablets. Topical treatments, such as corticosteroid creams and dithranol, are effective at reducing inflammation or suppressing the rapid production of skin cells, respectively.
Phototherapy can be an effective treatment for more severe psoriasis. Unlike topical treatments, a dermatologist is required to perform this type of treatment. There are two common types of phototherapy – UVB and PUVA. UVB therapy utilizes ultraviolet light to penetrate the surface of the skin and reduce inflammation and the rate of cell reproduction.
PUVA, which stands for psoralens plus ultraviolet A, is used for more severe skin conditions. A tablet is taken by the patient to increase the skin’s sensitive to UV light. This treatment, however, cannot be used over long periods of time, as it has been associated with skin cancer.
What Are Biological Psoriasis Treatments?
Some of the most recent advances in medical psoriasis treatments include injected biological medication. Unlike methotrexate, which can cause a variety of side effects, new biological treatments have shown greater effectiveness with fewer adverse side effects. Biological treatments use antibodies or proteins injected subcutaneously. Examples of FDA approved biological treatments include Adalimumab (Humira), Etancercept (Enbrel), Ustekinumab (Stelara), and Infliximab (Remicade). The treatments have been shown to be highly effective with up to a 75% success rate.