Topical Psoriasis Treatment
These forms of therapy are delivered as creams, gels, or ointments directly onto the skin. There are a number of Topical Psoriasis Medications, including Anthralin, Coal Tar, Retinoids, Vitamin D3, and Corticosteroids, and all are effective for some patients.
For patients that are simply seeking respite from the itching or pain associated with therapy, there are lubricants and bath solutions that can reduce the severity of these symptoms, but most are not very strong and must be used in combination with more potent treatments.
Topical Corticosteroids for Psoriasis - These are some of the most common forms of Psoriasis Therapy. They work by slowing down the rate at which skin cells turnover, and they also ease inflammation and reduce the activity of the immune system.
Generally, Topical Corticosteroids are quick solutions that are used to treat ongoing outbreaks of inflammation, because dependence and overuse of these treatments can lead to issues such as resistance, internal complications, and weakening of the skin.
Synthetic Vitamin D for Psoriasis - This includes any medication or supplement which imitates the function of Vitamin D. These supplements can reduce the severity of Psoriasis by slowing down the rate at which the skin cells rise. Taking too much Vitamin D can cause problems, because Long Term Vitamin D Overdose leads to an overabundance of calcium.
Vitamin A Retinoids for Psoriasis - Retinoid Ointments deliver Vitamin A to the skin. Women that are pregnant or could become pregnant must be careful, because, although these treatments are safe for adult patients, they can cause birth defects if the patient is pregnant.
Coal Tar Solution for Psoriasis - These treatments can be purchased both via prescription and over the counter, dependent upon the concentration of Coal Tar. Coal Tar is often an ingredient in shampoos designed to relieve inflammation and dandruff, and they can also be massaged into the skin or used in order to medicate bathwater. The main issues with Coal Tar are that the medication can stain clothing and skin, has a potent smell, and can lead to skin irritation or sensitivity to sunlight.
Anthralin for Psoriasis - This medication treats Psoriasis by limiting inflammation and the increase in skin cell division. Physicians can prescribe it as a paste, cream, or ointment, designed to be administered daily for a short period of time in order to treat inflamed skin. After Anthralin has been applied, it must be cleaned off the skin in order to protect the skin from irritation. A downside to the treatment is that it is highly discoloring, and effects the majority of surfaces, including the skin.
Salicylic Acid for Psoriasis - This treatment is available in a wide variety of topical products, from creams to shampoos, and mitigates scaling by encouraging flaking.
Bath Products for Psoriasis - There are a wide variety of lubricants and oils which can help mitigate itching and wash off scales, including Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts, oiled oatmeal, and Coal Tar.
Lubricants for Psoriasis - These treatments are applied topically over a regular basis in order to reduce the discomfort associated with Psoriasis. Greasy and thick lubricants are most effective, because they reduce itching and scaling by locking water in the skin.
Phototherapy for Psoriasis
Ultraviolet Light, although damaging in high quantities, can be a very effective treatment for patients that suffer from Psoriasis. UV light stimulates the production of Vitamin D3 by the skin, which is one way that Psoriasis complications can be reduced. This light can either come directly from the sun or via artificial sunlight.
It's important to either follow a physician's advice exactly or have the physician personally assist in Light Treatment so that symptoms do not become exacerbated by sunburn or other issues, and so that the patient can minimize risk of cancer and skin damage via UV Light.
How Does Sunlight Treat Psoriasis?
Sunlight is comprised of a wide range of bands of Ultraviolet Light. When the skin absorbs sunlight, the Ultraviolet Rays kill off the sensitive T-Cells that are active in inflamed areas, reducing the effects of the disease. This simultaneously reduces the rate at which scaling occurs and mitigates inflammation.
Phototherapy with UVB Light for Psoriasis - Another method to treat and control Psoriasis is via UVB light. These are rays which are produced by sunlight or artificial sunlight which are absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin. UVB light can be an effective means to reduce the appearance and severity of moderate or mild Psoriasis. This is often the first course of action by many physicians, because it bypasses any form of medication.
Another form of UVB Treatment, known as Broadband UVB, is an alternative which is sometimes used to treat inflammation that is resisting normal creams and ointments, and it can also be used for general treatment of widespread or relatively minor Psoriasis. These treatments are provided via a box or panel that emits light, and in some cases, the patient may be approved to use one of these UVB emitters at home with a physicians permission and guidance.
There is also a third form of UVB Therapy for Psoriasis known as Narrowband UVB. This form of treatment specifically delivers the range of light that has been found to be most effective at treating Psoriasis. This form of treatment is considered to be more effective than Broadband UVB, but less effective than Psoralen with Ultraviolet A.
Narrow Band UVB is often used as an intensive treatment, administered several times in a short time frame in order to most rapidly improve the skin. If this intensive therapy is effective, patients often only require occasional treatment in order to preserve the benefits provided by the initial treatment. The main risk of Narrowband UVB therapy is that it can lead to longer and more severe burns as compared to Broadband UVB Light Therapy.
Psoralen and UVA Phototherapy for Psoriasis - This is considered the most effective means of light therapy for Psoriasis. In this form of treatment, UVA exposure is combined with a Topical or Oral Medication known as Psoralen, which amplifies the benefits of UVA light. Psoralen amplifies the skin's sensitivity to UVA light, and because UVA Rays affect deeper layers of skin than UVB light, this combination provides the fastest form of Light Treatment for Psoriasis.
This form of therapy is prescribed 2-3 times per week, and is able to eliminate Psoriasis symptoms very quickly. The issue with this form of treatment is that it can lead to a number of temporary side-effects, including itching, burning, fatigue, headache, and nausea. It is paramount to keep eyes covered with specialized glasses during therapy as well.
Long Term UVA-Psoralen Treatment also comes with an enhanced risk of Squamous-Cell Skin Cancer, and may also increase the risk of Melanoma.
Systemic Treatment of Psoriasis
The worst cases of Psoriasis are often treated with injections or pills which circulate treatment throughout the entire body. This form of Psoriasis Therapy is known as Systemic Treatment.
Methotrexate Therapy for Psoriasis - This form of treatment functions like an internal dose of cyclosporin. When taken via injection or pill, this treatment reduces the activity of the immune system, thereby reducing the rate at which turnover of the skin cells occurs.
This treatment is not without risks, however, and the patient much be monitored intently by the prescribing physician, because Methotrexate can reduce the concentration of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the blood stream while also potentially leading to liver damage.
Because of these risks, physicians do not prescribe this treatment to patients that have a history of anemia and liver disease. Also, this treatment should never be used by women that are pregnant, because the treatment can lead to birth defects.
Retinoid Systemic Therapy for Psoriasis - These synthetic treatments simulate the function of Vitamin A, and can be effective in the case of severe psoriasis that is resistant to treatment. Like the oral form, this treatment can lead to birth defects if used by pregnant women.
Oral Cyclosporine for Psoriasis - This treatment comes in the form of a pill, and reduces the rate of skin cell turnover. This treatment is effective very quickly, but only works for as long as the medication is in the system. It is most effective for stemming rapid-onset Psoriasis in order to prevent hospitalization.
Cyclosporine does come with side effects, and can lead to hypertension or impaired renal function. As such, a physician should closely monitor therapy. Cyclosporine is also not suggested for patients with a history of skin cancer or an impaired immune system.
Biologic Treatment for Psoriasis - These medications are comprised of proteins that are produced by living cells in order to suppress the processes of the immune system which lead to inflammation and the rapid production of skin cells. These treatments are delivered via injection, and can be self-administered.
Like most other oral and injectable Psoriasis treatments, ongoing treatment must be monitored closely by a physician. These treatments do lead to an enhanced infection risk, and they can impact the ability of vaccines to function effectively. There is also some correlation between Biologics and other medical disorders such as lymphoma, cancer, blood diseases, and CNS Disorders. The link between Biologics and these conditions has not been fully established, and these medications are only intended for use by adults.
Combination Psoriasis Treatment
Because of the complexity of Psoriasis, physicians often prescribe multiple forms of treatment simultaneously. This can reduce the risk of side-effects from various therapies by reducing the dosage needed to provide effective therapy and relief.
Psoriasis Counseling and Group Therapy
Many patients with Psoriasis benefit from getting psychological attention in order to mitigate the social costs of Psoriasis and improve psychological quality of life. Patients that have self-image issues commonly find relief by talking about their problems with a counselor, or having a support group of men and women that are suffering from the same condition.
Ongoing Psoriasis Research
Because Psoriasis is such a complex and problematic condition, and because it affects so many people, there is a lot of medical research going on to help advance the science of Psoriasis Treatment. Ongoing areas of research include how to help Psoriasis sufferers experience healthier skin and any way that it may be possible to stop or suspend the condition.
In recent years, medical knowledge regarding the genetic factors behind Psoriasis are becoming quickly illuminated. Today, there are a number of genes that are classified as being implicated in some way in the formation of the medical condition. Genetics is only one piece of the puzzle, however, and there are a number of factors which cause the disease to appear independent or only partially dependent upon genetics.
What medical researchers do understand is that there are certain genes which increase the likelihood of the expression of the disease. In addition to understanding the genetic mechanism behind the disease, researchers are also looking to understand the mechanism behind the sensation of itching more completely so that the side-effect of itching can be treated more effectively.
Ever since researchers found out that T-Cells are the primary affective culprit of Psoriasis, increased time and resources are being spent studying state-of-the-art treatments that can effectively reduce skin reactions cause by immune system over-response. One of the most promising areas of research is in promoting treatments which either limit the activities of cytokines or block T-Cell response. Cytokines are a form of protein that is responsible for inflammation.
The ultimate goal of these medical researchers is to figure out a way to treat Auto-Immune Psoriasis without suppressing the activity of the rest of the Immune System. If researchers are able to accomplish this, the benefits could branch out to other Auto-Immune Disorders as well.
What Are the Health Risks Associated with Psoriasis?
Medical studies have shown that men and women with Psoriasis have a correlated increased risk of a number of conditions including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular complications. These issues are more apparent in patients with more severe forms of Psoriasis.
Scientists are attempting to figure out the physiological mechanisms by which these medical conditions are potentially linked in order to be able to provide patients with greater comprehensive treatment as well as learn more about how the various systems of the human body interact with one another.