Can You Cure Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is characterised as a condition where you have red, scaly patches spanning swathes of the skin. It’s believed to start as a result of an overactive immune system. It can show up virtually anywhere on the skin from the scalp to the toenails.
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One of the first things you will want to know about the disease if you are newly diagnosed is whether it can be cured. Unfortunately, the consensus from the science community is that there is no cure. However, there are things that can help when treating symptoms or bringing symptoms under control.
Corticosteroids, creams, ointments and lotions
Your first line of defense is likely to be corticosteroids, creams, ointments and lotions. Corticosteroids work by applying the treatment to an affected area of skin. It penetrates through the skin to act on inflammation caused by psoriasis. It can reduce redness and scaling.
Certain corticosteroids may harbor quite a few different side effects, particularly depending on the potency of the product. If you have high potency, you have to be careful that the skin does not become thinned or damaged from prolonged use1.
The other main consideration is that the more you use these treatments, the less effective they can become. In addition, they can trigger a ‘rebound’ effect if stopped abruptly. Always speak to your doctor about these effects.
A secondary defense
Creams, ointments, and lotions can provide a secondary defense.1 They are good at getting into the skin, relieving itch, burning and pain sensations. The creams and ointments I’ve used have never cleared my psoriasis but they work brilliantly at reducing the redness and stopping scaling.
They are also great at lifting hard-to-reach scales or scales which are particularly thick. Oils can also be good for this. Coconut oil, for example, is something you can apply to the scalp and leave in overnight where it will help to soothe scales and lift them from your head.
If corticosteroids don’t help or psoriasis comes back, you may get to try phototherapy. There are three approaches to consider if you want phototherapy. The first is to use narrow band UVB phototherapeutic tubes2. For this treatment, the skin is exposed to rays of light which helps to reduce the production of skin cells and get rid of inflammation2.
You also have UVA therapy. This works slightly differently. It works by exposing the skin to a certain light, but you also have to take a medication known as psoralen2. You take this medication to make the skin more susceptible to light, so it radiates much more effectively2.
There is another UVB option too. This is called balneophototherapy 2. It works by the individual soaking themselves in water with substances for around 20 minutes. UV light is exposed to the person’s skin while they are soaking or shortly afterwards 2. Be aware that with all of these options, there are potential side effects. Skin cancer is one. Discuss these with your medical team.
Oral medication and their side effects
If phototherapy doesn’t help or you don’t want it, you could try oral medication. Methotrexate is one such method. It works by reducing a range of different proteins known for causing inflammation3. But again, the treatment has side effects. And, you shouldn’t drink alcohol while you are on it.
The other oral treatment is cyclosporine. It works in a similar fashion. But again, carries side effects. Always consult your medical team.
Understanding the many treatment options
If you don’t want those treatments, you can opt for biologic therapy. These are generally newer treatments and I’ve written a separate article on how they work. You will generally be offered one if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, it’s having a big impact on your life and other treatments you’ve tried have not worked. They are a good option but carry side effects.
The list above isn’t exhaustive on treating your psoriasis. There are lots of other options: coal tar shampoo, for example. But they give you a good idea of what you can do to help your psoriasis. I am sorry that it isn’t curable, but there are plenty of ways of treating the symptoms or putting the disease into remission so you don’t have it bothering you.
Scientists know that the effects of psoriasis are often as bad as having another life-limiting condition such as cancer, so understand the impact the condition can have. If you’re newly diagnosed, go into your dermatology appointment armed with information and do your research on what treatment you would like.
Lots can help, but some won’t. Be open to trying different things. And remember: it may not be curable, but it is treatable. Go and get your life back.
Do you get frustrated with your psoriasis treatment plan?