Understanding Common Medications and Treatments for Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which there is an overproduction of the skin cells causing excessive skin growth on the skin. The extra skin cells develop thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that may be painful. There is no cure of psoriasis, though the treatment is focused to stop the cells overgrowth while providing relief. Here are the common medications being used in treatment of psoriasis.

Medications and Treatments for Psoriasis

Topical corticosteroids

Counted among the efficient anti-inflammatory drugs, topical corticosteroids are used in mild to moderate psoriasis. They slow down the skin overgrowth by controlling the immune system, thereby minimizing inflammation and itching. Topical ointment can be strong or mild according to the severity of psoriasis.

Low potency corticosteroids are best for face and skin folds. But prolong use or excessive application can lead to skin thinning and negative affect on the treatment.

Vitamin D

Using vitamin D in synthetic form is useful to control the skin cells growth.

Calcipotriene (Dovonex) topical cream contains Vitamin D to be used in mild symptoms or in combination with other topical medications or phototherapy. This treatment can irritate the skin. On the other hand, Calcitriol (Rocaltrol) is effective and less irritant than calcipotriene; however it is expensive.


Anthralin is said to balance the DNA activity in skin cells by removing scales and smoothing the skin. You must wash off anthralin cream after wearing it for a shorter time as prolong staying can be irritating to your skin.

Topical Retinoids

It is a vitamin A byproduct that is used to keep DNA activities in balance, besides healing inflammation. However, it may irritate your skin and increasing sensitivity to sun.

Calcineurin inhibitors

Calcineruirn disturb the process of T cells which is useful in healing of inflammation of plaque accumulation. But they should not be used for longer time as they can make skin vulnerable to cancer and lymphoma. Calcineurin inhibitors are more effective when used on thin skin including the areas around eyes.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is an OTC drug and is helpful in striping off the dead skin cells and scaling reduction. In some cases, it is combined with other medications to make the treatment more effective. It is also available in medicated shampoos and scalp solutions for scalp psoriasis.

Coal Tar:

Coal tar is the black derivative of petroleum products and coal. It is a traditional treatment for psoriasis. It is believed to minimize scaling, itching and inflammation. Exactly how it works isn’t known. This is why it is available in OTC shampoos, oils and creams.

Light therapy (phototherapy)

In light therapy, an artificial light is thrown at your affected skin to slow down the over production of the skin cells. Light therapy for psoriasis is broadly categorized into UVB, Narrow band UVB, goeckerman therapy, Photochemotherapy, and excimer laser.

Oral Medications:

Oral medications are prescribed in case of severe psoriasis. As they may cause side effects, you must use them for a shorter period of time. Common oral medications for psoriasis include retinoids, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.

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