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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Psoriasis: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Skin Conditions


Psoriasis | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

An assessment of lifestyle, including stress levels and aggravating factors, should be made. Triggers should be reduced or eliminated.

Gentle removal of scales is important. Oils or coal tar preparations can be added to baths, and a soft brush can be used to scrub lesions carefully. Emollient creams, such as those containing alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acid, may be used after bathing to soften thick scales. A regular skin routine is important, even when no flare-up of psoriasis is present.

Mild to moderate cases of psoriasis can also be treated with medicines that are applied to the skin, including:

  • anthralin
  • coal tar
  • medicines derived from vitamin D
  • retinoids, or vitamin A derivatives
  • steroid creams and ointments, which may be covered with a dressing to increase their effectiveness
  • Moderate to severe psoriasis may be treated with phototherapy, or exposure to light, that is carefully prescribed by the healthcare provider. Possible options include:

  • PUVA photochemotherapy, which uses a light-sensitizing medicine known as methoxsalen together with ultraviolet A light
  • sunlight
  • ultraviolet B irradiation along with one or more topical medicines
  • Severe psoriasis is often treated with the following oral medicines:

  • cyclosporine
  • methotrexate
  • retinoids, such as isotretinoin and acitretin
  • Isolated patches of psoriasis that are resistant to other therapy may be injected with triamcinolone acetonide.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects of steroid creams and ointments include thinning of the skin and stretch marks. Coal tar can make the person sensitive to ultraviolet light. Anthralin and vitamin-based products can irritate the skin. Phototherapy increases a person's chance of developing skin cancer or premature aging of the skin. Retinoids can cause birth defects if taken by a pregnant woman. Methotrexate can damage the liver, while cyclosporine can damage the kidneys.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    Psoriasis should clear substantially with appropriate treatment, although this varies from person to person. Treatment of psoriasis is lifelong.

    How is the disease monitored?

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Psoriasis: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/20/01

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