Psoriasis | Treatment

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How is psoriasis treated?

There are a number of treatments for psoriasis. Your doctor will help you decide which one is best for you. Keeping your skin moisturized with an over-the-counter product is a good first step. Body lotion can help keep skin from getting too dry and cracking. It can also help remove some of the scales. Bathing daily in Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, bath oil or oatmeal can calm redness and remove scales.

Prescription creams, ointments, lotions and gels (also called topical medicines) that you put on the affected areas are often used to treat psoriasis. To help the medicine stay on the skin, you might apply it and then cover the areas with plastic wrap (such as Saran Wrap). Options include corticosteroids, a type of vitamin D and pine tar. Special shampoos are used for psoriasis on the scalp. 

For more severe cases of psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medicines in pill form. Some of these medicines can cause side effects, so your doctor may prescribe these for only a short period of time before returning to another type of treatment.

Sunlight also can help psoriasis, but be careful not to stay in the sun too long. A sunburn can actually make your psoriasis worse. Talk to your doctor about how to safely try sunlight exposure as a psoriasis treatment. Light therapy may be another option for treatment of psoriasis. With this treatment, the affected skin is exposed to controlled forms of artificial sunlight, usually after using Psoralen, a light-sensitizing medicine. This is called "PUVA" treatment. Talk to your doctor about this option.

Will psoriasis go away with treatment?

While psoriasis will typically improve with treatment, it may not ever completely go away. The scales of psoriasis should improve after you begin treatment. It may take 2 to 6 weeks for the affected areas of your skin to return to a more normal thickness, and the redness may take several months to improve. Sometimes, certain scaly spots will get better at the same time that other spots get worse.

After you've been using a certain type of medicine for a while, your psoriasis may "get used to" the treatment. If this happens, your medicine may not be as effective as it once was. Your doctor may change your medicine. Sometimes you may need a stronger dose of medicine. Talk to your doctor if your psoriasis doesn't seem to be getting better with treatment.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 07/95

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