The Decision to Switch Psoriasis Treatment
Last updated: March 2023
When your doctor prescribes a new medication, you may expect immediate effects. But psoriasis drugs can take time to make a difference. In some cases, it can take months for treatment to start working properly.1
Living with psoriasis often means living with unknowns. From getting correctly diagnosed to predicting your next flare, uncertainty makes life harder. One unknown you may face is deciding when to switch treatments.
Psoriasis is different for everyone. A treatment that works for 1 person may not for someone else. The trial and error process might seem endless. However, you have choices. Knowing what these options are can help you manage your symptoms.2
Why would someone want to switch their psoriasis treatment?
With autoimmune diseases like psoriasis, everyone has their own path to a diagnosis. Living with a chronic long-term autoimmune disease might mean living undiagnosed for some time. This stage can be the hardest.3
It is easy to feel judged by people around you who do not understand your struggles. You might try countless over-the-counter creams and lotions, only to find they cannot fix the inflammation going on in your body. You might be in pain. Your skin might be:3
Psoriasis can look like other skin conditions, delaying a formal diagnosis. Then treatment begins. You might need products to treat your skin and systemic therapies. Changes will not happen overnight, but you will hopefully find a treatment that works better and improves your symptoms. Hang in there – this process takes time.1-3
The first step in switching treatments...
You and your doctor will work together to find the treatment that works best for you. The main goal when managing psoriasis is to reduce the number of plaques, thickness, and scaling on your skin while keeping the risk of side effects from treatment as low as possible. Other things you may consider when choosing treatment are:1,2
- Changes to your overall appearance
- Cost of medicines
People with psoriasis often need more than 1 drug to manage their symptoms. The stepwise approach to treatment is used. Treatment for psoriasis can include:1,2
- Topical (applied to the skin) products
- Systemic drugs
- Light therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- Complementary and alternative therapies
Stepwise treatment might include first trying older drugs before adding biologic or biosimilar drugs. Biologics and biosimilars are newer and stronger than other psoriasis treatments.3
You will usually try a treatment for at least 3 months before you and your doctor decide if it is working effectively. Because psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition inside the body, treatment must focus on reducing this inflammation.1,3
Playing the psoriasis treatment waiting game...
Waiting to see whether a treatment will work can be frustrating. At times, managing your daily routine can seem impossible. Tracking what works and what doesn’t is a lot to handle. You are not alone. Most people with psoriasis have to change treatment at some point in their journey.
You and your doctor will use different factors to monitor how well your treatment is working. These factors include:3
- Skin appearance
- Pain and comfort level
- Number and severity of side effects to the treatment
Sometimes, your opinion on treatment may not be the same as your doctor’s opinion. This does not mean you have a “bad” doctor. Living with a chronic condition like psoriasis includes having hard conversations with your doctors. If you feel like your treatment plan should change, be prepared to discuss this with your doctor. Your opinion matters and you are an essential member of your healthcare team.3
Important things to know before switching treatments
Whatever you do, talk to your dermatologist before stopping or starting any new treatments. Many drugs need to be tapered (reduced slowly) to avoid dangerous side effects. Only your doctor can tell you the best way to start, decrease, or stop a drug.3
Remember, there is no cure for psoriasis. Switching treatments will not eliminate all symptoms of the disease. Until a cure is found, psoriasis will always require a combination of therapies to manage.1-3
It might be helpful to list why you are unhappy with your current treatment regimen. You can write a list of pros and cons to show your doctor exactly why you want a change. Bring the list and your questions to your next appointment with your doctor.3
If you need to switch your treatment, your doctor can help guide you. Effective, long-term treatment might include flare-ups every once in a while. But those flare-ups do not need to control your life or define who you are. Convenient, affordable, and accessible treatment is available to most people with psoriasis.1-3
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?