The Most Common Types of Treatments for Psoriasis

doctor checking old lady

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the physician may switch to another remedy should treatment be ineffective for the patient
  • Due to the potential side effects of conventional psoriasis medications, you’re better off using natural methods, such as spices and essential oils, in order to treat this condition

There are no known cures for psoriasis. Instead, you could treat the symptoms to help you experience relief. Your physician has to consider these four factors before making a final recommendation:

  • Type of psoriasis
  • Severity of the disease
  • Amount of skin involved
  • Possible allergies or side effects that a person may experience upon treatment

The thing is, some psoriasis treatments may not be suitable after all, and some physicians may consider switching to another treatment protocol. This is where "rotational" therapy may be considered. Rotation therapy, as pointed out by Medicine.net, is a process wherein psoriasis medications may be changed every six to 24 months to potentially lessen its toxicity and reduce the risk for side effects.1

Some of the Most Common Types of Treatments for Psoriasis May Be Risky

There are four treatments that are commonly used for psoriasis. However, even though they are constantly recommended by physicians, they have their own health risks as well:2

Topical medications — These creams and ointments that can be obtained over-the-counter or by prescription3 are directly applied onto your skin, and have been known to:4

Assist in decreasing inflammation and skin cell turnover

Subdue the immune system

Aid with skin peeling and pore unclogging

Alleviating skin concerns

However, a common class of topical psoriasis treatments called corticosteroids actually has more health risks than benefits. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), redness, skin changes (such as skin thinning), easier bruising, appearance of stretch marks and dilated surface blood vessels are common side effects of these topical remedies.

Even worse, these corticosteroids may be absorbed in your skin. It's worse if the treatments are applied to large areas of skin, utilized for long periods of time or used with excessive occlusions, since these may negatively affect your internal organs.5

Light therapy or phototherapy — Two types of light are utilized for phototherapy: natural light from the sun, and artificial light. As a result, there are two types of light therapy for psoriasis: ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy and psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) phototherapy.

UVB phototherapy may be effective in targeting psoriasis. The NPF highlights that UVB light has the potential to seep into the skin and slow down skin cell growth.6 Furthermore, sensible exposure to UVB light can photosynthesize important vitamin D onto your skin. A known caveat, however, is that UVB light can alter the structure of your DNA.

If you find that UVB phototherapy is too costly, try practicing sensible sun exposure and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels of 40 to 60 ng/ml instead. Not only will you be exposed to UVB light, you can also optimize your vitamin D levels (and your health) in the process.

While PUVA phototherapy may be recommended by many physicians, it's best to skip it. This type of treatment utilizes UVA rays that can produce reactive oxygen species in your tissue and lead to further skin damage. PUVA phototherapy also involves topical or oral administration of a drug called psoralen that's linked to side effects, such as nausea, itching and skin redness.7,8

Systemic treatment — This is usually reserved for patients with severe psoriasis. Systemic medications are prescriptions that are taken orally in liquid or pill form, or given intravenously.9

Common medications typically used for systemic treatment include methotrexate, retinoids, cyclosporine or biologic response modifiers. Unfortunately, each type of drug has its own set of side effects that you should be concerned with:10,11

Methotrexate Retinoids (Soriatane or acitretin) Cyclosporines Biologic Response Modifiers

Nausea

Joint pain

High cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Abdominal pain

Tiredness

Dry mouth, skin and eyes

Excessive hair growth

Upper respiratory infections

Sleeping difficulties

Chapped lips

Tingling and burning feelings in arms and legs

Headaches

Lightheadedness

Hair loss

Skin sensitivity

Flu-like symptoms

Mouth ulcers

Headaches

Swifter gum tissue growth, alongside swelling

Fatigue or tiredness

Vomiting

Liver damage

Flu-like symptoms

Injection-site reactions

Headache

Nail and fingertip problems

Upset stomach

Hypersensitivity reactions

Tendency to bruise or bleed easily

Reduced ability to see at night

Tiredness

Cold symptoms

Fever

Increased sunlight sensitivity

Muscle, bone or joint pain

Diarrhea

Bloody diarrhea

High levels of liver enzymes

Neurologic symptoms such as headaches and tremors

Yeast infections

Chills

Changes to quantities of blood fat

Sunlight sensitivity

Tendency to have thoughts of self-harm

Combination Therapy12,13 — As the name implies, this method involves a combination of any of the treatments mentioned earlier: topical, light and systemic treatments.

How to Treat Psoriasis Safely and Naturally

Due to the potential side effects of conventional psoriasis medications, you're better off using natural home remedies, such as spices and essential oils, in order to treat psoriasis. Here are five holistic treatments that you can use for healing psoriasis:14

Aloe vera — Whether you use aloe vera gel or essential oil, you can be guaranteed that the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant can help alleviate inflammation and even arthritic pain.15,16 Aloe vera can also be effective in improving skin health by lessening skin inflammation, blistering17 and itching,18 and helping heal wounds.19,20

Apple cider vinegar — If you or someone you know has psoriasis, apple cider vinegar may assist with reducing scalp itchiness. You can apply some amounts of apple cider vinegar onto the scalp for several times a week, or dilute in water at a 1:1 ratio (to help prevent a burning sensation), and rinse the skin once the solution has dried. However, avoid using apple cider vinegar if you have cracked or bleeding skin, as it may trigger irritation and a burning sensation on your skin.

Capsaicin — An ingredient that's responsible for the fiery flavor of chili peppers, capsaicin is typically added to creams and ointments. Capsaicin is known to lessen the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component in nerve cells that can transmit pain signals to your brain, and desensitizes sensory receptors on your skin.21 However, as the NPF has pointed out, more research is needed to fully determine capsaicin's long-term benefits and safety.

Tea tree oil — This essential oil has shown promise as both antimicrobial22 and anti-inflammatory,23 and as a traditional remedy that may combat lice and fungal infections.24 However, there are still no definite studies that effectively demonstrate the link between tea tree oil and psoriasis treatment.

If you're interested in using tea tree oil, make sure to consult a physician first and do a skin patch test to check for potential allergic reactions. Make sure to dilute it in a safe carrier oil to lessen the risk of side effects like itchy rashes, skin irritation, burning sensation on the skin and redness.25

Turmeric — Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, this yellow spice, which is typically used in Indian cuisine, may help with pain relief. Curcumin, a component in the spice, is responsible for providing immense anti-inflammatory relief by combatting the inflammation at the molecular level.26 Even better, the spice is said to be more effective than potentially risky prescription medications.

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What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis In Children

Psoriasis Versus Eczema

Psoriatic Arthritis

Is Psoriasis Contagious?

Psoriasis Causes

Psoriasis Types

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis Treatment

Psoriasis Prevention

Psoriasis Diet

Celebrities With Psoriasis

Psoriasis FAQ

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