Treatment of the uncomfortable skin condition known as psoriasis aims to interrupt the skin cell life cycle which is altered by the disease and to remove itchy, red scales from the skin’s surface.
Psoriasis treatments can be classified by three categories: topical treatments, light therapy, and systemic medications.
Topical treatments: Creams and ointments are often used by themselves to treat mild to moderate cases of psoriasis. In more serious cases, topical treatments for psoriasis are combined with light therapy or systemic medications. Some topical treatments include corticosteroid cream, synthetic forms of vitamin D called analogues, a medication called Anthralin, topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar, and moisturizing ointments.
Light therapy: Also called phototherapy, this treatment method uses natural or artificial ultraviolet rays to normalize the turnover rate of skin cells. The most basic form of phototherapy consists of brief, daily exposure of the skin to sunlight. Other UV ray treatment methods are UVB phototherapy, narrowband UVB therapy, Goeckerman therapy, photochemotherapy, excimer laser treatment, pulsed dye laser therapy, and combination light therapy.
Systemic Medications: Oral or injected medications may be used to treat psoriasis if other treatment methods fail to improve the condition. Because of severe potential side effects, some of the medications used on people with psoriasis should only be taken for brief periods of time and under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Systemic psoriasis medications include retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, hydroxyurea, immunomodulator drugs, and thioguanine.
Traditionally, a doctor chooses to treat psoriasis beginning with a mild course of action and working up to a more aggressive plan if the condition does not improve. The goal of treating psoriasis is to slow the rate of cell turnover with as few side effects as possible.
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