Possible ways to Manage Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a challenging condition both physically and emotionally. This
red itchy and scaly skin can take a toll on your life.
Though psoriasis affects your skin, it actually begins deep inside the
immune system of your body. It’s an autoimmune disorder of the skin leading to
uncontrolled multiplication of your skin cells. It is characterized by thick
red inflamed skin covered in silvery patches. These recurring patches occur
typically on the legs, elbows, scalp, lower back, soles of the feet and palms. However,
they can occur anywhere on the body.
There is no permanent cure for psoriasis, but there are many ways by which
you can ease the symptoms of psoriasis. The
treatment of psoriasis aims to stop or limit the growth of skin
cells and to remove the scales and itchiness.
Psoriasis comes with dry patchy skin which can be itchy and cause
discomfort, but with the right treatment plan, you can manage such symptoms.
Your dermatologist may suggest you lotions, creams, and ointments which are
referred to topical treatments. These can directly be applied to your skin and
Doctors are likely to recommend these prescribed medications to manage mild
to moderate psoriasis. They may help with inflammation and reduce the building
up of skin cells. These are available in the form of creams, ointments, foams,
gels, sprays, and shampoos. Mid corticosteroids are usually prescribed for
sensitive areas such as skin folds or your face and treating widespread
patches. During flares, they can be applied once a day and less frequently just
to maintain remissions.
For a tough-to-treat, less sensitive or smaller areas, skin doctors
prescribe stronger corticosteroid medications. Topical corticosteroids may stop
working overtime. Long-term use also has some side effects including thin skin,
stretch marks, broken blood vessels, and bruising. So, ensure you follow the
Vitamin D Analogues
These topical drugs have synthetic vitamin D in them. These creams,
ointments, lotions, gels, solutions, and foams slow down your skin cell growth.
They are safer than corticosteroids over long-term use but they can result in
irritation of the skin. Over the long-term, they may be safer for you than
steroids, but they can irritate your skin. Vitamin D analogues include
Calcipotriene, Calcitriol, Tacalcitol.
These topical medications help in the reduction of inflammation and plaque
inhibitors are especially helpful in areas where the skin is thin such as
around the eyes where steroid creams may be harmful or too irritating. These
are not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding or if you intend to get
pregnant. This drug is not intended for long-term use. So, use it as per your
dermatologist’s directions only.
Salicylic acid comes in the form of ointments, lotions, creams, soaps,
shampoos, gels, and cloth pads. It helps in getting rid of scales that show up
on patches of skin affected by psoriasis especially scalp psoriasis. It’s
helpful when used with other medications by increasing their ability to
penetrate the skin more easily.
If topical medications are not doing great, then dermatologists may
recommend light therapy. It is a first-line treatment for moderate to severe
psoriasis. It may work alone or in combination with other medications. Light
therapy involves exposing skin to natural or artificial light is controlled
amounts. Let’s explore light therapy options for you:
Daily exposure to sunlight known as heliotherapy for a brief amount such as
20-30 minutes may help in improving skin affected by psoriasis. You must cover
the healthy skin with sunscreen containing zinc oxide and an SPF 30 or higher
and proper clothing. Expose only affected skin. You must consult your skin
doctor about the safest way to use natural light as excessive sun rays can
cause sunburn which worsens the psoriasis condition.
UVB (ultraviolet B)
Controlled doses of UVB rays from a phototherapy machine can treat single
patches, widespread areas, and psoriasis not treated by topical medications. It
may cause short term side effects of redness, dryness, and itchy skin which can
be eased out by moisturizing regularly. You may need phototherapy treatment
thrice in a week for 2-3 months for great results. Sometimes, skin doctors may
recommend using UVB treatment with other therapy such as coal tar which is
called the Goeckerman regimen. Using ultraviolet light with anthralin-salicylic
acid paste is also very effective and known as the Ingram regimen.
Ultraviolet A (PUVA)
This treatment involves a UVA lamp session with a light-sensitizing drug
called psoralen. You can either take the medication as a pill or apply it on
your skin as lotion, cream, gel, or ointment. UVA light has more penetration
power than the UVA and psoralen makes skin more sensitive and responsive to UVA
exposure. You may require 25-30 sessions for great results. PUVA manages
psoriasis symptoms very well and clears up the skin quickly with long-lasting
results. However, using its long term may raise the risk of skin cancer. So,
doctors recommend it only in severe cases or when no other treatment has
This laser treatment involves the focused use of high-energy ultraviolet B
light only on psoriasis affected skin. It requires fewer sessions than other
phototherapy treatments. It has mild side effects including redness,
blistering, and scarring at the areas that have been treated.
There are several alternative therapies that may ease the symptoms of
psoriasis such as dietary supplements, herbs, and creams. They are generally
safe and effective in reducing itching and scaling in patients with mild to
Various bath solutions such as Dead Sea salts, oiled oatmeal, Epsom salts,
and some essential oils may help psoriasis by easing itching and removing
scales. Mix the Dead Sea salt in the bath and soak in for about 15 minutes.
Apply moisturizer to lock the hydration the moment you come out of the tub. It
may ease the discomfort.
Fish oils are a rich source of Omega-3 Fatty acids which may help in
reducing the inflammation and improve autoimmune disorder. The extent of its
benefit depends on the type of fish oil, its dose, and the type of psoriasis.
Oral fish oil therapy in combination with UVB light therapy is known to give
good results in reducing the amount of psoriasis affected skin. Applying fish
oil to the affected skin and covering it for six hours for one month may also
help you see the reduction in scaly skin.
Traditional medicine is using the gel from the aloe vera plant extract for
so many years to treat many skin conditions. Applying aloe vera gel or an
ointment contain the extract may help in reducing the itching, scaling,
redness, and inflammation caused by psoriasis.
Also known as barberry, Oregon grape is a herbal remedy that may help in
calming the immune response in psoriasis. It is known to improve the symptoms
and is very safe and effective for patients with mild to moderate psoriasis.
Living with psoriasis is very challenging. You don’t only need to consider
various treatment options but also need to adopt a daily regimen such as taking
regular short baths, avoiding alcohol, covering the affected areas before
sleeping, keeping the skin moist, taking care of your diet, and whatnots. You
must always consult your dermatologist in case the symptoms aggravate.
If you want to know more about psoriasis
treatment, let us help you explore your options. Schedule an appointment
for a visit at our Lansing or Mount Pleasant dermatology office, whichever is
convenient for you.