Never take a pill, apply a lotion, and undergo a treatment for psoriasis without your doctor’s recommendation! Psoriasis is a lifelong skin condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly because the physical symptoms and psychological toll can be burdensome.
You and your doctor will discuss the type and number of treatments necessary in your case. You may, for example, respond to topical treatments in case of a mild flare-up (i.e., less than 3% of your body is covered) but injections and intravenous treatments are needed for a severe flare-up (i.e., more than 10% affected).
Topical Treatments and Occlusion
Your doctor will recommend over-the-counter topical treatments as the first line of defense for mild psoriasis. But you may also need prescription ointments and creams with stronger active ingredients, which are useful in slowing down the abnormal growth of skin cells and in reducing the swelling.
Wrapping the part of your body with plastic wrap, cotton socks, or nylon fabric where an ointment was applied should be avoided unless your doctor says it’s okay. Known as occlusion, it may or may not make your treatment better; in some cases, it can worsen your symptoms.
If topical ointments and creams aren’t working as well as expected, your doctor will likely prescribe oral medications. These work on a deeper level, so to speak, because of their absorption into your bloodstream where, hopefully, their active ingredients can do their work.
These medications work by preventing flares and clearing up the skin of the red swelling, among other symptoms. These are also recommended for moderate to severe psoriasis, oftentimes combined with topical treatments for better and faster results.
Injections and IV Treatments
Biologics are among the strongest medicines used in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis. These work by blocking specific parts of the body’s immune system, said parts of which appear to aid in the progression of the condition.
These drugs can be taken in two ways: first, as injections that you can administer on your own at home; and second, as intravenous treatments (i.e., directly into a vein) that should only be administered by a doctor. These include adalimumab (Humira) and infliximab (Remicade).
The oral, injectable and intravenous treatments can cause serious side effects, such as kidney and liver issues, certain cancers, and infections. You must then work closely with your doctor so that you can minimize the risk and maximize the rewards from properly using these medications.
And don’t forget to make lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of yet another flare-up. You may consider water therapy, effective stress management, and complementary therapies, too.