Psoriasis Treatment

A cure for psoriasis has not, as yet, been discovered. Researchers are working hard to better understand the disease and develop new, more effective treatments. The discovery that psoriasis has a genetic component and is connected to the immune system has brought researchers closer than ever to a psoriasis cure. Clinical trials regularly shed new light on the disorder.

In the absences of a cure for psoriasis, treatment usually focuses on reducing and controlling psoriatic symptoms. A wide range of therapies and medical treatments are available for psoriasis treatment, many of which can clear up the skin disorder for periods of time. Such remissions should not be confused with a cure for psoriasis: they are treatments, not cures.

Topical Psoriasis Treatment

Topical medications are often used to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. Corticosteroid creams help reduce both skin inflammation and itching. Steroids are only suitable for treating certain parts of the body, however; they are not suitable, for instance, for genital psoriasis.Other topical creams include synthetic versions of Vitamins A and D, and coal tar. Coal tar has been used for centuries as a psoriasis treatment. It is available both as a topical cream and shampoo, which works well for scalp psoriasis. Coal tar can be somewhat messy to use and can make skin more light sensitive, but it is a time-tested treatment for psoriasis.

Medications

Medications are available for psoriasis treatment, and work with varying amounts of success. The two most common medications are Methotrexate and members of the Retinoid family of drugs. Both medications have proven effective. They cannot, however, be taken by pregnant women, and both men and women trying to conceive should avoid Methotrexate.

In January 2003 the FDA approved Amevive® (alefacept) for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults.

An injectable medication and the first biologic psoriasis treatment, Amevive works by suppressing the T-cells thought to be significant in plaque psoriasis development. The results of the two studies used for FDA approval show a significantly higher positive response among those participants receiving Amevive compared to the control group. Because the drug works by suppressing the immune system, those taking it may have an increased risk of developing infections or malignancies. The effect of Amevive on fetal development and pregnancy has not yet been determined.

Phototherapy and Sunlight

Psoriasis symptoms often clear up or improve through careful exposure to sunlight. Two particular wavelengths of light, ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB), are particularly beneficial. The danger, of course, is that overexposure to the sun’s rays can cause sunburn, which aggravates psoriasis symptoms. Both UVA and UVB are available through phototherapy. Phototherapy uses special ultraviolet lights to treat psoriasis, and is monitored by a physician.

Psoriasis Diet

Patients have long reported to their doctors that certain foods make their psoriasis worse, or that other foods seem to improve their symptoms. It’s quite possible that this is true, but to date, there is no definitive list of ingredients that constitutes a psoriasis diet. The lack of a medically validated psoriasis diet means that currently, there is little more than anecdotal evidence regarding which foods help or aggravate the condition.

The Importance of Moisture

Moisturizing the skin can help reduce the itching and inflammation associated with psoriasis. Regular moisturizing also helps keep the skin flexible, reducing the chances of cracked skin. Soaking affected areas in water may also alleviate symptoms, especially soaking in water with added Epsom or Dead Sea salts. The salts help to gently remove psoriatic scaling.

Resources

American Academy of Dermatology. (nd). Psoriasis. Retrieved March 24, 2002 from www.aad.org/pamphlets/Psoriasis.html.

DermatologyChannel.net. (nd). Psoriasis. Retrieved March 25, 2002 from www.dermatologychannel.net/psoriasis/.

National Library of Medicine. (nd). Psoriasis. Retrieved March 23, 2002 from www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000434.htm.

National Psoriasis Foundation. (nd). About psoriasis. Retrieved March 25, 2002 from www.psoriasis.org/b000.htm.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2003). FDA approved first biologic therapy for psoriasis. FDA Talk Paper. Retrieved February 3, 2003, from www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2003/ANS01194.html.