Top 3 Treatment Options for Plaque Psoriasis

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Psoriasis affects approximately 7 million people in the United States, and the most common type that people suffer from is plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis causes patches of red, raised, and scaling patches or plaques on the skin. These lesions are often thick and silvery as well as painful and itchy.

Since the exact cause of psoriasis is still a mystery, there is still no cure for psoriasis. However, experts believe it to be a genetic condition that may be incited by environmental and external factors, such as stress, infections, injuries, and some medications like lithium.

The most common symptom plaque psoriasis brings about is the itchy and painful plaques that form on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

However, psoriasis lesions may develop on any part of the body.

Psoriasis Treatment Options

Your doctor will decide on the right treatment plan depending on your type of psoriasis, the severity of your case, the areas affected, and your response to various treatment methods. Psoriasis treatment usually means topical treatments, light therapy or phototherapy, and systemic therapies. In some cases, one or two of these treatments may be used in combination.

  1. Topical Treatments

You apply topical treatments directly onto the skin, which then provides at least temporary relief from inflammation and itching. The most common treatments are retinoids, coal tar, anthralin, and corticosteroids. Natural bath products and moisturizers may soothe the lesions, but they are usually not effective enough to alleviate the skin. So, it is always better to use natural remedies along with medications whose effectiveness have been proven.

Retinoids — These contain synthetic Vitamin A and correct the way and speed new skin cells grow to a degree to manage the symptoms of psoriasis.

Corticosteroids — These topical treatments inhibit your body’s immune response to slow down skin cell growth and lessen inflammation,

Coal Tar — there are both ointments and shampoos available that contain coal tar, which improves the appearance of your skin and reduces inflammation.

  1. Phototherapy (Light Therapy)

Phototherapy entails the process of exposing ultraviolet light to the psoriasis lesions on the surface of your skin. You can get natural ultraviolet light from the sun, but doctors can also administer artificial UV light therapy. In a nutshell, phototherapy slows down the skin cell growth to control psoriasis lesions and improve the skin’s appearance. Keep in mind that too much exposure to sunlight or UV light comes with an increased risk of skin cancer.

  1. Systemic Therapies

For people with severe cases of psoriasis, doctors often opt for oral or intravenous treatments with more strength, which are referred to as systemic therapies. In addition to the oral form of retinoids–stronger than the ointment–, these treatments include cyclosporine, methotrexate (Trexall), and biologics.

Cyclosporine is an oral medication that cracks down on the immune system to impede the growth of new skin cells, providing fast relief. However, your symptoms will likely return once you go off the drug. Further, the side effects of the drug include hypertension and kidney damage.

Methotrexate also suppresses the immune response that results in the rapid growth of new skin cells. Methotrexate is taken orally or intravenously. The drug has some serious possible side effects like liver damage so must be monitored closely by your doctor as long as it is taken.

Biologics contain real living cells in lieu of chemicals and are the newest treatment option for psoriasis, targeting and destroying only specific immune system responses.

The right treatment is different for each individual with psoriasis because their psoriasis type, its severity, and their symptoms vary. So, your doctor may not simply prescribe you one of these treatments but instead opt for combination therapy, which entails taking and applying lower dosages of various treatments for maximum effectiveness.

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