What Are Ways to Manage Symptoms and Treat Psoriasis?

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes symptoms to develop on the skin due to inflammation in the body. It is a chronic, long-term condition that cannot be cured. However, there is a wide range of treatment options available and many people find that they are able to control their symptoms and manage their condition.

If you are diagnosed with psoriasis, then your healthcare providers will work with you to develop a treatment plan. The plan may include:

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before adding, dropping, or changing any component of your treatment plan.

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How are medications used to treat psoriasis?

Most people will use at least one type of medication, especially during flare-ups when psoriasis symptoms get worse for a period of time1. Medications for psoriasis include over-the-counter treatments, topical medications, and systemic medications.

Topical medications are applied directly to the skin affected by psoriasis symptoms. Common over-the-counter treatments include:

  • Salicylic acid products
  • Coal tar products
  • Itch relief products

Stronger topical treatments are available by prescription for treating symptoms, including:

Systemic medications are powerful medications that may be needed to control psoriasis symptoms that are moderate to severe. These are taken orally or by injection, and work to improve psoriasis symptoms by affecting the way the person’s immune system functions

Read more information about medications for psoriasis.

How is light therapy used to treat psoriasis?

Light therapy, also called phototherapy, is another common treatment option for people with plaque psoriasis. It involves exposing areas of skin to ultraviolet rays of light for a prescribed amount of time. It works by damaging the skin cells that cause psoriasis plaques to form. Types of phototherapy treatments include:

  • UVB phototherapy
  • PUVA phototherapy
  • excimer laser therapy
  • sunlight

Read more information about light therapy for psoriasis.

How can lifestyle considerations improve psoriasis symptoms?

Making certain types of lifestyle changes can be beneficial for many people with psoriasis. Dietary changes and regular exercise can help to improve overall health, reduce psoriasis symptoms, and lower the risk of other health conditions for people with psoriasis. Learning and applying effective stress management techniques can help to reduce the stress that living with psoriasis can cause and improve your quality of life.

Read more information about lifestyle considerations and psoriasis.

What home remedies are used to treat psoriasis?

Home remedies can also provide relief from psoriasis symptoms such as dryness, cracked skin, and itching, although the effects are usually short-term. These types of home remedies include applying emollients and/or oils to the affected skin regularly to hydrate the skin and soften plaques. Taking a daily bath or shower, as well as using bath additives, can also be helpful. Using an occlusive dressing to cover affected skin after applying certain types of topical treatments can make the medicine penetrate more deeply into the skin, where it can have a greater effect.

Read more information about home remedies for psoriasis.

What complementary and alternative therapies are used to treat psoriasis?

Complementary and alternative medicines, such as acupuncture therapy, herbal remedies, and dietary supplements, are becoming more popular among people living with psoriasis. These are treatments that require more scientific investigation, but they are generally thought to reduce inflammation in various ways. Complementary and alternative therapies should be used only after discussing these with your healthcare provider. Many healthcare providers are supportive of these approaches, but they may need to adjust other medications in order for your treatment to be most effective.

Read more information about complementary and alternative therapies for psoriasis.

view references
Menter A, Korman NJ, Elmets CA,Feldman SR, Gelfand JM, Gordon KB, Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: section 6. Guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: case-based presentations and evidence-based conclusions. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Jul;65(1):137-74.  2. Menter A et al. Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis: Section 5. Guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with phototherapy and photochemotherapy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Jan;62(1):114-35. Full Text 3. The National Psoriasis Foundation. Diet and Psoriasis. Available at https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/alternative/diet-supplements 4. Mayo Clinic. Lifestyle and home remedies. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20030838 5. Steele T et al. Herbal Remedies for Psoriasis: What are our patients taking? Dermatology Nursing. (2007) Available at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/567028
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