Are The New Treatments For Psoriasis Really Effective?
According to the medical and pharmaceutical industry, treating mild, moderate to severe psoriasis usually involves a combination of one or more of the new treatments for psoriasis. Besides topical treatments, your doctor may want you to do phototherapy (also known as light therapy) and/or systemic medications, including biologic drugs.
When treating psoriasis the aim is:
• Stop the phase that increases the growth of new skin cells. This will decrease the swelling and scale formations.
• Get rid of plague and smooth out the epidermal surface, this done primarily through the topical treatments that you rub into you skin.
• Moisturize the area and keep the skin healthy for longer periods of time.
New Treatments for healing psoriasis are currently in 4 main categories:
1. Topical Medications
2. Photo Therapy
3. Systemic Medications.
4. Biological Drugs
These new treatments for psoriasis used by themselves work very good when applied to the skin either through lotions or ointments for milder cases of psoriasis. Some physicians recommend psoriasis topical treatments along with UV light treatment when you have a more sever case or flare up. Always be careful when using tanning beds. The point is to get a light dose of UV rays not get burnt and make your flare up worse or cause skin cancer.
Topical corticosteroids – These medications are anti-inflammatory drugs and are the most prescribed medication to date for mild to moderated psoriasis. They slow down the cell development cycle by suppressing the immune system. This relieves the redness, swelling and inflammation temporally. Remember psoriasis is first and foremost an auto-immune disease. It starts from the inside out.
These medications range from mild to very strong. The mild solutions are usually given for the sensitive areas of the body like the face and private areas. Use stronger ones for the tougher exterior. They also make foams for the scalp area. These medications are usually prescribed when there is an out break and should be discontinued when under control. These can cause thinning of the skin with prolong use.
Vitamin D Compounds – this latest psoriasis treatment is man made forms of vitamin D, it slows the growth of skin cells. Calcipotriene (Dovonex) or (Rocaltrol) has to be gotten with a prescription and helps with mild to moderate case of psoriasis. This medicine can irritate you skin.
Anthralin – This drug is said to make your DNA normal. Make you skin smoother because it is also a scale lifter but it stains everything it comes into contact with your skin, clothes, bed, sheets, etc. Can cause irritation and also make you skin sensitive to the sun or UV treatment.
Topical Retinoid – This was originally made as an acne medication although Tazarotene (Tazorac or Avage) is made solely for psoriasis. This is a vitamin A deriviative and it to is thought to make DNA normal. It is known to cause skin irritation, sensitivity to sunlight and even though the risk of birth defects is lower then oral retinoids, you should tell you Dr. if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
Salicylic Acid – is a keratolytic, or peeling agent, and it makes the outer layer of skin come off. It is a scale lifter and does help in making the skin smooth and more presentable. Some brands are stronger then others and can cause skin irritation and prolong use because of the absorption into the body makes hair brittle and will cause temporary hair loss.
Coal tar – Is made up of coal and wood (juniper and pine and can help moisturizes the skin. It can also cause skin irritation and it is just nasty. Stains your bed, clothes and even blonde hair. Not to mention it smells really bad.
Moisturizers – Moisturizers do not reduce or cure psoriasis but they do keep the effected area moist. If you have to use them we recommend you use.
• Fragrance free
• Keep warm showers short, 10 minutes
• Moisturize after showering and washing hands or face.
Light therapy (phototherapy):
Just as the name implies, this type of new treatment for psoriasis uses artificial ultra violet light. This light is exposed to the skin and does aid in the healing process. Benjamin Franklin even remarked back in 1778 that the “summer sun helps cure psoriasis symptoms”. I don’t believe he knew about the ultra violet rays themselves but he was on the right track when trying to cure his psoriasis and not much has changed to this day.
Using ultraviolet rays in its natural setting is always the best, outside and in the sun. They do make home phototherapy units for the home and of course you can get you a membership to the local tanning salon (which doesn't really work). The key to this is consistency of use and don’t over do it and cause more damage then you started with.
If you go to the Dr.s office here is a list of the options that he will give you to try along with your medications. Be careful and be sure to ask him about which prescriptions and medications that may make your skin more susceptible to burning. Coal tar and Anthralin are two that do.
Sunlight – Summer sunshine is always they best.
UVB Phototherapy – Monitored doses of UVB light from an artificial light source may improve mild to moderate psoriasis symptoms.
Narrowband UVB Therapy – New treatments for psoriasis include the, narrowband UVB therapy it is proving to be more effective than broadband UVB treatment.
Goeckerman Therapy – This treatment combine UVB light therapy and coal tar. Because coal tar makes the skin receptive and sensitive to light it some times get gets good response. This treatment used to be a 3 week stay in the hospital but they know do it out of their individual offices. Good old Insurance companies, always looking out for us!
Photochemotherapy –Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) – This lovely treatment involves you taking a drug Psoralen, that makes your skin sensitive to UV lights. The light treatment is then given 2-3 times a week for prescribed amount of time. Bad news? Short-term side effects include nausea, headache, burning and itching. Long-term side effects include dry and wrinkled skin, freckles, and increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Excimer Laser – In this type a treatment a targeted beam of UVB light with a unique and specific wavelength is pointed to the psoriasis infected area to control scaling and inflammation. It is a shorter treatment because of the intensity but may cause irritation and blistering.
Pulsed Dye Laser – Almost the same as the Excimer laser, this laser uses a different type of light to kill the little blood vessels that cause psoriasis plaques. Some of the side effects include bruising for up to two weeks after treatment and a slight risk of scarring.
Combination Light Therapy – This treatment using a combination of UV light with other drugs such as retinoids frequently improves phototherapy's overall effectiveness. These combination treatments are usually used after other phototherapy options have failed to work.
Now if you are one of the really unfortunate ones and have severe psoriasis your physician might want to start you on other types of oral or injection drugs. These should only be taken for brief periods of time, if you do take them. The side effects can be severe.
Here is a list of the newest treatments for psoriasis on the market today; The Systemic and Biological drugs:
Retinoids – This new treatment for psoriasis uses a vitamin A therapy that reduces the skin cell production cycle if you have severe type out break of psoriasis. This should only be done for a short period of time; symptoms do come back when you stop taking it. Side effects can include hair loss, dryness of mucous membranes and mouth. Also retinoids like citretin (Soratane) can cause birth defects. Women should not take during pregnancy and do not plan to get pregnant for 3 years after taking this drug.
Thioguanine – almost as effective as cyclosporine and methotrexate, this medicine has fewer side effects. But, this medicine is known to cause anemia and again, women how are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should stay away from this treatment.
Immunomodulator Drugs (biologics) – These drugs are immunomodulator drugs. They are approved for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis. These medications are alefacept (Amevive), etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade) and ustekinumab (Stelara). If you don’t like needles these are not for you. These are given intravenously. This is not man made but natural but use with extreme caution this effects your immune system and you have to be screened for tuberculosis. This treatment can let in life threatening infections.
Hydroxyurea – This medication isn't as effective as cyclosporine or methotrexate, but unlike the stronger drugs it can be combined with phototherapy. Possible side effects include a decrease in red blood cells (anemia) and a decrease in white blood cells and platelets. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Methotrexate – We are in luck with this one. This one is taken orally and is for mild to sever outbreaks. Bad news it does have side effects. Can cause upset stomach, loss of appetite and make you tired. Used for long periods of time can cause liver damage and decreased red blood cell production.
Cyclosporine – Is another drug like methotrexate and suppresses the immune system. Like other drugs of this type of this type you leave yourself open for infections and other health problems including cancer, kidney problems and last but not least high blood pressure. The risk gets higher the longer you take the drug.
When you visit your doctor he or she will prescribe to you based on the type of psoriasis you have and severity of your particular case. Traditionally they will start out with the mild topical treatments and see how you respond to that treatment along with phototherapy and then go up the scale from there and try other new treatments for psoriasis that are proven effective. Their goal is to find what works best for your case and treat it with the lowest dosage and less harmful medications they can.