Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects an estimated 7.5 million Americans. If you are one of those sufferers, it probably does not matter much that you are not suffering alone – you just want some relief from the itching, scaling or noticeable red rashes. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this genetic condition, and not all treatments will work for all people. However, the following are the best options available for treating Psoriasis, whether your Psoriasis is just a minor annoyance or a major hassle.
Types of Psoriasis
First of all, if you haven’t checked already with a doctor or skin care specialist, that would be the best place to start. A knowledgeable medical professional can determine what kind of Psoriasis you have and determine the best course of treatment. Before looking at the treatment options listed here, check to see which kind of Psoriasis you have:
- Plaque: 80% of Psoriasis sufferers have this type, which is characterized by raised, red lesions covered by white scales and located on the elbows, knees, scalp or lower back.
- Guttate: Small, red individual spots on the stomach, chest, back, arms or legs that often first show up in childhood or adolescence.
- Pustular: White pus-filled blisters surrounded by red skin.
- Inverse: Red patches in skin folds (armpits, groin, etc.)
- Erythrodermic: Redness and shedding of skin over much of the body accompanied by intense itching and pain. The most intense form of Psoriasis.
The Best Psoriasis Treatments
1. Topical (On the Skin) Treatments
Salicylic Acid: Removes scaling, and is available over-the-counter in up to a 3% concentration or by prescription in over 3% concentration. One downside is that the stronger concentrations can cause irritation if left on the skin too long.
Coal Tar: Tar treatments commonly take the form of shampoos such as T/Gel to treat Psoriasis on the scalp, although some patients find using tar solutions directly on skin lesions helps. The downside here is that tar can stain clothes and bedding. The shampoos can also stain gray or light blond hair. If you are concerned, many companies offer a gel version.
Topical Steroids: These medications often work quickly and effectively on people who have mild to moderate cases of Psoriasis. Steroids will reduce the inflammation associated with Psoriasis. These treatments should be discussed with and prescribed by a doctor because each brand has a different strength and specific instructions for use.
2. Light Therapy: Many people with Psoriasis find treatment with UVB/UVA rays or lasers to be effective. UVB treatment is similar to tanning: patients are exposed to regular sessions of artificial UVB light under a doctor’s supervision. UVA treatment combines a light sensitizing medication with exposure to UVA light. Laser therapy allows patients to have small, chronic problem areas treated directly.
3. “Systemics” and “Biologics:” Both of these treatments treat from the inside out rather than the outside in. “Systemics” medications affect the entire body and are usually given to patients who don’t respond to or can’t have regular treatment. “Biologics” are medications created from living sources, like vaccines and insulin. Both types of treatment are usually taken through injections or by mouth.
4. Alternative Treatments: For people who can’t or won’t undergo drug therapy, or who are simply looking for a less aggressive treatment, many alternative options are available. Many people find sun or water therapy effective. Short, daily exposure to sunlight often helps clear up your skin’s appearance. And water therapy can soften hardened lesions associated with Psoriasis. Other treatment options include massage, changes in diet, meditation and yoga. Some of these options can help people who develop Psoriatic arthritis by helping to lessen pain and restore range of motion.
Your Best Treatment
Unfortunately, people with Psoriasis know that it is a frustrating disorder to live with and to treat. Psoriasis is characterized by periods of intense pain and inflammation with alternating periods of calm, all seemingly without any obvious triggers. Plus, the treatments that work for one person will not necessarily work for another person. The best approach to treating your Psoriasis will likely involve a combination of doctor prescribed treatments and over the counter products. You will arrive at your best treatment through a series of trial and error tests, which will probably depend on your preferred approach (drugs, natural approaches) and the severity of your Psoriasis. By doing this, you will be able to treat your condition so that you can live comfortably and treat the Psoriasis flare-ups effectively.