How psoriasis treatment works

Scientists don't know exactly what causes psoriasis. However, it's believed to be related to the immune system. The theory is that T cells, which are part of the immune system, stimulate skin cells to grow much faster than normal - and faster than they can be shed. This leads to scaly, red patches of skin caused by skin cells growing out of control.

Although there are many different psoriasis treatments that work in different ways, they all target this process in one way or another. Let's take a closer look at psoriasis treatment options.

There are three main ways of treating psoriasis: topical medications, systemic medications, and light therapy. Topical medications are applied directly to the skin or scalp, and work locally in the area where they are applied. Systemic medications are taken by mouth or injection and are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they move and work throughout the body. Systemic medications can be divided into biologics (such as alefacept, efalizumab, and etanercept) and non-biologics (such as acitretin, cyclosporine, and methotrexate). Here's how they work:

  • Light therapy: Although we don't know exactly how it works, light therapy is believed to decrease T cell activity, which helps control the skin cell growth and bring it back to more normal levels.
  • Topical medications: Each topical medication has a slightly different action, but most of them work by either reducing inflammation, controlling skin cell growth, or both.
  • Systemic medications - biologics: This group of medications works by controlling the activity of the T cells that are causing the skin cells to grow too quickly, and by blocking the T cells from entering the skin.
  • Systemic medications - non-biologics: These medications work by decreasing the activity of the immune system and blocking skin cell growth.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/What-to-Expect-from-Psoriasis-Treatment

What psoriasis treatment can offer

Unfortunately, there's currently no treatment available that can cure psoriasis. But treatment can offer you many other benefits. Treatment can help clear up your skin and relieve your psoriasis symptoms, including skin redness, itching, pain, dryness, and scales.

Treatment can even put you into remission. A remission is a period of time during which your psoriasis clears up. The length of time you stay in remission depends on the treatment (see "When to expect results") and can vary between different individuals with psoriasis.

How can you tell if your treatment is working? Keep track of your symptoms, and check your skin regularly. If your treatment is working, the itching, scaling, and redness should start to go away, and the psoriasis patches should start to clear up. Make a note of whether your affected areas have started getting smaller. If the psoriasis covers a large area of your body, you may find it easiest to use a digital camera to keep track of how the affected areas change over time. This will help your doctor evaluate your treatment.

Don't be discouraged if you don't see results right away. Some treatments take weeks to work (see "When to expect results") and you may need to try more than one treatment before you find the one that works for you (see "Dealing with disappointing results").

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/What-to-Expect-from-Psoriasis-Treatment

When to expect results from psoriasis treatments

In order to have a sense of control over your psoriasis treatment, you need to know what to expect from it when. Many psoriasis medications take weeks to work - a wait that can be easier if you can expect results at the end of it. Here's when to start looking for results and how long the results might last:

Topical medications (for more information on the different types of psoriasis treatment, see "How psoriasis treatment works")

  • Calcipotriol (Dovonex®) starts to work within 2 weeks, with maximum effects after 6-8 weeks. You can stop using the medication once your psoriasis clears up, and your remission can last for about 4-18 months.
  • Calcipotriol/betamethasone (Dovobet®) starts to work within one week, with maximum effects after 4 weeks. Some studies have shown that using calcipotriol plus a steroid can provide a longer remission than calcipotriol alone, which gives a 4-18 month remission.
  • Coal tar (Targel®) can clear up psoriasis within 3-4 weeks when used together with light therapy.
  • Corticosteroids (various brands) can have maximum effects within a week if used with an airtight dressing.
  • Dithranol, also called anthralin (Anthranol®, Anthrascalp®, Anthraforte®), takes about 3 weeks for maximum effects.
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac®) starts to work after one week, with maximum improvement after 12 weeks.

Systemic medications - biologics

  • Alefacept (Amevive®) starts to work within 6 weeks, with maximum effects 18 weeks after treatment is started (treatment lasts 12 weeks). Remission lasts an average of 8 months after treatment is stopped.
  • Efalizumab (Raptiva®) starts to work within 12 weeks. Studies have shown that improvement may continue for up to 3 years if the treatment is continued.
  • Etanercept (Enbrel®) starts to work within one week, with maximum effects after 3 months. Remission lasts about one month after treatment is stopped.

Systemic medications - non-biologics

  • Acitretin (Soriatane®) starts to work within 2-3 months. During the first month, symptoms may seem to get worse, but then they will improve. Remission lasts for a few months after treatment is stopped.
  • Cyclosporine (Neoral® and generics) starts to work after 2 weeks of treatment, with maximum effects after 12-16 weeks of treatment. Remission lasts for 6-16 weeks after treatment is stopped.
  • Methotrexate (Methotrexate® and generics) starts to work within 4-6 weeks, with most people noticing an improvement after 2-3 months.

Light therapy

  • UVB (ultraviolet B) treatment starts to work after about 30 treatments (treatments are given 3 times per week).
  • PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) treatment starts to work after about 25 treatments (treatments are given 2-3 times per week). Remission lasts for 3-12 months after treatment is stopped.
  • Laser treatment clears up psoriasis within 4-6 weeks.

If your treatment doesn't start working within the expected timeframe, or if you think your psoriasis is coming back after being in remission, check with your doctor.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/What-to-Expect-from-Psoriasis-Treatment

Dealing with disappointing results from psoriasis treatment

If your psoriasis treatment is not working as well as you had expected, your doctor may be able to help. Talk to your doctor if:

  • your treatment should have started working by now but you have not seen any change in your condition
  • you have had some improvement but your psoriasis is still affecting your life
  • you were in remission but your psoriasis has come back
  • you think you might be having side effects from your treatment

When you go to your doctor, think about some of the things you've been doing lately. Tell him about any stressful events at home or work and tell him about how you use your medications Your doctor can offer you a number of different options for dealing with disappointing results. Your doctor may:

  • provide you with information on how to use your treatment properly
  • help you learn more about what to expect from your treatment and when it should start working
  • change your dose
  • add another treatment
  • switch to a different treatment
  • suggest you take a short break from treatment (this can help with side effects that are getting in the way of your treatment)

You may need to try more than one treatment before you find the one that works best for you, and you may need to use a combination of treatments to get the best results. If your treatment is not meeting your expectations, talk to your doctor for help.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/What-to-Expect-from-Psoriasis-Treatment