Psoriasis Medication:
Topical, Oral, Injections, and Biologics

World Psoriasis Day 29 October 2024

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Psoriasis sufferers have a wide variety of psoriasis medications available. While these medications will not be able to cure you, they may be able to soothe your symptoms and make your life easier. Medications for psoriasis come in many forms including creams and pills. Some must be prescribed by a doctor, while you can buy others over the counter at a pharmacy.

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Mild Psoriasis

The majority of psoriasis cases are fairly mild. In that case, your doctor will typically recommend home treatment instead of prescribing medications. If your psoriasis worsens or doesn’t respond to home treatment, your doctor may opt for medication.



Several psoriasis medications come in cream form. For some of these medications, you must get a prescription from your doctor but others are over the counter. Over the counter medications for psoriasis usually focus on moisturizing your skin to reduce itching.

It may even be possible to manage your psoriasis using this method. If you have crusts on your skin from psoriasis, you may need to gently remove them in order to effectively apply the topical ointment.

If you have moderate or severe psoriasis, your doctor will most likely give you a prescription for a topical cream. Examples of topical psoriasis medications include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Calcipotriene
  • Anthralin
  • Tars

Your doctor may recommend that you combine a topical cream with a treatment called occlusion therapy, where you apply cream to the affected area and then wrap it in tape, plastic or fabric to keep the area moist. You should only do this if it is recommended by your doctor as side effects can occur.

Oral Psoriasis Medication

You can use medications taken by mouth to treat moderate to severe psoriasis. Common oral medications are usually related to vitamin A. Some medications that you can take for psoriasis include:

  • Methotrexate
  • Cyclosporine
  • Retinoids

Scalp and nail psoriasis is the most difficult forms of psoriasis to treat. Oral medications are particularly helpful in treating psoriasis in these cases. Other treatments for scalp psoriasis include shampoos with tar, zinc or selenium sulfide, and corticosteroid.

Some oral medications for psoriasis have potential side effects. For this reason, you will probably need to have regular check-ups with your doctor to make sure that everything is working well. With some medications, you may need to switch the types you take periodically in order to reduce the risk of severe side effects. Potential side effects of psoriasis medications are:

  • Skin dryness and itching
  • Hair Loss
  • Upset stomach and loss of appetite
  • Liver damage
  • Decreased blood cell production
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure

Many oral medications are not safe to take during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and seeking treatment for psoriasis, you need to alert your doctor immediately.


Albeit very rare, some cases exist where medication is injected directly into a psoriasis patch or sore.


Biologics are a new type of medication designed to help people with psoriasis. Biologic therapies are administered by injection. These medications work by changing the immune system’s response thereby reducing psoriasis symptoms. Biologic medication recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for psoriasis treatment includes:

  • Amevive
  • Enbrel
  • Remicade

Biologic medications approved to treat psoriatic arthritis are:

  • Humira
  • Simponi
  • Remicade

These medications are effective in treating psoriasis in clinical trials. However, they are very expensive and are new enough that researchers do not yet know whether any long term side effects are associated with their usage. When used long-term, biologics may increase the likelihood of cancer and infections.

Medications to Avoid

Some medications unrelated to psoriasis can exacerbate your symptoms. It is best to avoid these medications so that you do not further irritate your psoriasis. Medications to avoid if you have psoriasis include:

  • Lithium
  • Beta Blockers
  • NSAIDs

Psoriasis is often embarrassing and uncomfortable. It can also be extremely painful. Fortunately, with the help of your doctor, you can find plenty of options for psoriasis medications to help decrease the severity.

Medications for Psoriasis



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Psoriasis medication, drugs

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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases