Psoriasis is a condition where your skin cells build up rapidly. As a result, this build up often causes whitish scales on top of inflamed patches of skin. It is usually found on the scalp, elbows, trunk, knees and feet. Until today, there is still no cure for psoriasis. However, this condition is manageable, and treatments will focus on reducing the smptoms. Psoriasis treatments fall into four categories:
1) Topical therapy
This treatment can be applied directly to the skin to bring local relief.
- Corticosteroid. The main treatment for psoriasis. Can be found in a lot of forms, including creams, ointments, lotions, gels or shampoos. Long-term use of strong corticosteroids can cause side effects such as skin thinning.
- Salicylic acid. This medication is best used for scalp psoriasis. It may be used alone, or with other medications to enhance its penetration into the skin.
- Retinoid. Does not work as quickly as steroids. Retinoid side effects include dryness and skin irritation.
- Coal tar. Coal tar can reduce inflammation, scaling and itchiness. However, this medication is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Light therapy is often used in moderate to severe cases to improve psoriasis lesions.
- UVB (Ultraviolet B light) broadband. This artificial light is usually used to treat widespread psoriasis that does not improve with topical therapy.
- UVB (Ultraviolet B light) narrowband. It is more effective than UVB broadband. This treatment focuses more on localized lesions and is gradually replacing UVB broadband.
- Psoralen plus Ultraviolet A (PUVA). The most effective treatment. However, it is used less frequently nowadays as it is shown to increase the chance of getting skin cancer.
3) Oral or Injected Medications
When other treatments fail, a doctor may prescribe oral or injected medications.
- Methotrexate. Methotrexate can reduce skin cells production and inflammation. People taking this medication need to undergo regular blood tests.
- Oral Retinoid. These pills are used to reduce the production of skin cells. However, Retinoid is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Biologics. These drugs are usually administered by injection. They are very effective in treating psoriasis, but are known to be extremely expensive.
4) Home Therapy
Some people might use home therapy alone or in combination with medical treatment to improve psoriasis symptoms.
- Diet. Eating healthy may help in managing psoriasis. If you are overweight, losing weight can make treatments more effective. Besides, some foods such as red meat, processed food, refined sugar and dairy products can trigger psoriasis. Hence, avoiding these foods might improve psoriasis symptoms.
- Aloe Vera. Many health stores sell Aloe Vera extract cream and gel. This product can be very helpful in reducing inflammation, redness, scaling and also itchiness when applied directly to the affected skin.
- Fish oil. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that some research proved can reduce inflammation. It might interfere with some medications, hence it is recommended to talk to your doctor before taking them.
- Turmeric. Curcumin is an active ingredient that can be found in turmeric. A study in 2016 revealed that curcumin has great potential in treating psoriasis. It can be taken in pills, capsules or sprinkled on your food.
- Avoid triggers. Stress, alcohol and tobacco are well-known triggers for psoriasis. Hence, learning to cut these will help to reduce flare-up. Furthermore, it might be a good decision to quit smoking or taking alcohol entirely as it surely will make you healthier.
Living with psoriasis can be very challenging. However, with the right approach, many people with this condition were able to reduce or eliminate its symptoms. Make sure to see a doctor to discuss the best possible treatments available and live a healthy life.