Psoriasis Drugs: OTC and Prescription Meds for Treating Psoriasis

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Plenty of psoriasis drugs are available that may help soothe the pain associated with the condition. The ultimate goal of most drugs for psoriasis  is to reduce the inflammation and other symptoms as well as to slow the quick skin cell growth that causes psoriasis.

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Over the Counter Topical Psoriasis Drugs

Topically applied drugs are one of the most common forms of psoriasis drugs. These drugs are liquids, creams or ointments that you apply to the affected areas. Some topical drugs require a doctor’s prescription, but a significant number of topical drugs are available over the counter.

If you have mild to moderate psoriasis, your doctor will probably start you out with an over the counter topical cream. These drugs include:

  • Coal tar - a common psoriasis treatment with minimal side effects that reduces the itching, scaling and inflammation associated with psoriasis
  • Moisturizers with an ointment base - Moisturizers will not cure heal your psoriasis, but may soothe your skin and reduce your symptoms
  • Salicylic acid - reduces scaling and helps slough dead skin cells. Salicylic acid often comes in shampoo form and most people use it to treat scalp psoriasis.

Prescription Topical Drugs

There may come a point in your psoriasis treatment where you need stronger topical drugs to combat your symptoms. Plenty of stronger topical drugs are available by prescription and your doctor can guide you as to which ones will be the most effective for you. Examples of prescription topical drugs include:

  • Corticosteroids - are anti-inflammatory medications and are the most commonly prescribed topical drugs for psoriasis. They reduce inflammation and itching by suppressing your immune system.
  • Vitamin D Analogues - These drugs are synthetic forms of Vitamin D designed to slow skin cell growth. Calcipotriene and Calcitriol are examples of this type of drug.
  • Anthralin - helps remove scales, smoothing the skin. It helps regulate DNA activity in your skin cells. Side effects include skin irritation and staining.

Occlusion Therapy

Along with topical psoriasis medicines, some medical professionals advise an approach called occlusion treatment. Occlusion therapy treatment includes using a topical medicine to the damaged location and afterwards covering it with material, tape or plastic. This makes sure that the lotion will certainly remain on the skin and also maintains the location moist.

Occlusion treatment could assist boost the performance of the medicated lotions. Adverse effects could take place when making use of occlusion treatment, so ensure that talk to a medical professional regarding ways to finish the therapy securely.

Oral Drugs

For some people, their psoriasis is so severe that topical psoriasis drugs are not effective. In this case, a doctor may prescribe an oral medication, which you can take by mouth. Oral drugs for treating psoriasis include:

  • Retinoids - Related to Vitamin A, retinoids decrease the production of skin cells.
  • Methotrexate - suppresses inflammation and decreases the production of skin cells. It also slows the progression of psoriatic arthritis.
  • Cyclosporine - suppresses the immune system.

Several of these oral medications have the potential to cause severe side effects. For this reason, many of these drugs can only be used for short periods of time and you must alternate with other treatments. If you take oral psoriasis medication, a doctor should monitor your progress and you will need frequent follow-up visits.

Examples of side effects from long-term use of oral psoriatic drugs include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Liver damage
  • High risk of infection
  • Decreased red and white blood cells
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of cancer

Many of these drugs can cause severe birth defects or pregnancy complications. For this reason, you will need to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to be pregnant within a few years of taking the drugs.

Injected Drugs

If you do not respond to topical or oral psoriasis drugs, you may need to try injected drugs such as biologics. Biologics block interactions between inflammatory pathways and immune system cells. While derived from natural sources, these are still risky because they dramatically weaken the immune system and increase risk of infection, especially tuberculosis.



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Psoriasis Drugs and other psoriasis medications

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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases