Psoriasis comes in many different forms and variations. Psoriasis is not yet curable. However, in consultation with your dermatologist, you can find a psoriasis treatment that is individually tailored to you.
The goal of a psoriasis treatment is to
- to relieve the symptoms of your disease significantly,
- to shorten the acute phases of psoriasis and
- to prevent new outbreaks of psoriasis.
In the following article we will explain the options available to you for treating your psoriasis.
When the doctor announces the diagnosis of psoriasis, many people are unaware of the treatment options. Very quickly the question arises: “Which psoriasis treatments are available at all?”
In the treatment of psoriasis, physicians basically distinguish between two forms of therapy:
- local therapy and
- systemic therapy.
Both forms of therapy aim to relieve the symptoms of your illness.
In local therapy, the patient applies the active ingredients in the form of a cream, gel, lotion or shampoo to the affected skin areas.
Systemic therapy involves the use of drugs whose ingredients act throughout the body.
As an alternative to the classic systemic psoriasis treatment, so-called biologicals have been available for several years. These are genetically engineered active ingredients that are similar to certain endogenous substances. They intervene directly in the inflammatory process of the skin and inhibit certain messenger substances.
Psoriasis treatment: local therapy
The so-called local therapy or topical therapy is the basic framework of any psoriasis treatment. It is considered a basic therapy and is generally used for all forms (degrees of severity) of psoriasis.
The local therapy in the context of a psoriasis treatment is designed for external application. This means that creams, gels, lotions and shampoos are mainly used to reduce the symptoms of the disease.
In the first step it is important to soften the thickened skin areas and to loosen the scales (plaques). This will then allow the active ingredients to enter the skin at all. Skin care products containing salicylic acid, urea or lactic acid are particularly suitable for this purpose.
Active agents that your doctor prescribes for the further topical therapy of psoriasis are for example
- Cortisone (glucocorticoids),
- Vitamin D3 and vitamin D3 derivatives and/or
- Tar supplements.
These active ingredients inhibit inflammation and the excessive proliferation of skin cells.
The choice of an appropriate active agent depends on various factors. Your dermatologist will explain the mode of action and possible side effects of the individual creams, ointments and lotions and select a suitable product.
In the case of mild psoriasis, in many cases local therapy is sufficient as the sole form of treatment. Your dermatologist will prescribe you individually tailored products which you apply to the skin to alleviate the symptoms of your condition.
For moderate to severe psoriasis, local therapy is also part of a holistic treatment. You should continue it continuously and not interrupt it. This is the only way you can offer your skin optimal care.
In this case, a systemic therapy is often added to the treatment.
Psoriasis treatment: Systemic therapy
In the case of a severe form of psoriasis, or if the local therapy does not provide sufficient relief, your dermatologist may prescribe a systemic therapy.
In this case, the psoriasis treatment is not performed from the outside but from the inside. In this case, your doctor will prescribe medication in the form of tablets, injections or infusions.
For some years now, systemic therapy has been divided into two forms:
- classical therapy and
- therapy using biologics.
Classical form of therapy
In order to reduce the clinical picture, the patient is administered preparations that suppress the immune system. The suppression has the aim of stopping excessive skin production.
Drugs containing the active ingredients have proven to be effective in the classic psoriasis treatment:
- Ciclosporin and
- Fumaric acid ester.
Methotrexate (MTX) is commonly used for psoriasis vulgaris and people with psoriatic arthritis, i.e. where psoriasis affects the joints.
If the immune system is suppressed, however, this has a major disadvantage. The risk of infections, such as colds, increases significantly. Other side effects are also possible with long-term use of the medication. Systemic psoriasis treatment should always be accompanied by regular check-ups with your doctor.
Fortunately, science continues to make progress from year to year. For some years now, doctors have been using so-called biologics in the fight against psoriasis.
Biologics are produced in living cells using genetic engineering. They consist mainly of proteins that are very similar to the human body’s own antibodies.
Biologics act very specifically by
- Inhibit inflammatory messengers,
- Directly intervene in inflammatory processes and/or
- Block selected receptors.
The successes achieved through the use of biologicals are impressive: Patients affected by this form of psoriasis treatment achieve a relief of symptoms of up to 75 percent. In some cases, even up to 90 percent.
Biologics that are used, for example, in the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, include
- Certolizumab and
In some cases, it is even recommended and useful to combine the intake of classical systemic drugs and biologics. Your dermatologist can give you detailed and individual advice on this.
Supplementary measures for psoriasis treatment
However, the possibilities for treating your psoriasis do not end with local therapy and systemic therapy. In the following we will show you further measures that will positively support the success of your treatment.
- Light therapy (also called UV therapy or phototherapy): Irradiation with UV rays alleviates inflammatory processes and reduces excessive growth of skin cells.
- Laser therapy: The doctor irradiates smaller psoriasis foci specifically with strongly dosed laser light. The rays have an anti-inflammatory effect deep under the skin layers.
- Balneo-phototherapy (also called light-bath therapy): The irradiation with UV light is combined with baths in brine baths or a PUVA solution.
- Climatotherapy: Sunny places such as the Canary Islands or the Dead Sea allow light therapy using natural radiation under medical supervision.
- Home remedies: In addition to drug-based therapy, home remedies can also help to alleviate the symptoms of your illness. Special baths, rich oils or even compresses and wraps are an example of natural help against your itching.
- Homeopathy: The approach to a treatment with homeopathic remedies is always holistic. Homeopathy not only treats the symptoms of your psoriasis, but also gets to the bottom of the causes. Often globules, ointments and drops are used.
- Nutrition: There are numerous foods that either promote or dampen the inflammatory processes in your body. As a person affected by psoriasis you must be aware of this. Different diets, for example, can make your life with psoriasis much easier.
- Sport: Stress has been shown to be a factor that can promote and even trigger psoriasis attacks. Exercise and, in particular, relaxation methods such as autogenic training or yoga can help you prevent and reduce stress.
- Information and exchange: People affected by psoriasis often suffer greatly from the visible symptoms of their disease. This often leads to social isolation and depression. Information about one’s own illness and the exchange with other affected people help many patients and also encourage them to fight against psoriasis.
Your psoriasis is unique – so is your psoriasis treatment
Each psoriasis is different in terms of its expression, shape and symptoms. Just as different is the variety of treatment options.
The basis of every psoriasis treatment is an individual basic therapy. A moisturizing and anti-inflammatory cream, ointment or lotion should not be missing in your everyday life with psoriasis.
If all these creams do not bring the desired relief from your disease, an appointment with your dermatologist will help. Together you will choose the systemic form of therapy that is right for you.
Psoriasis is not curable to date – however, medicine and science are constantly making further progress in the field of psoriasis treatment. Biologics are already a big step in the right direction.
We are curious about your personal experiences. Which psoriasis treatment will help you best? You can also contact us if you have any questions – our Facebook group is the ideal place to ask!
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Bernd is one of the founders of Simply Psoriasis. He has been suffering from psoriasis for more than 20 years, but sees the chronic skin disease with more composure than a few years ago (which was a hard work). Nevertheless, he is very keen to make psoriasis easier and more socially accepted.