Treating moderate to severe psoriasis usually involves a combination of treatment strategies. Besides topical treatments, your doctor may prescribe phototherapy (also known as light therapy) and/or systemic medications, including biologic drugs.
Light therapy includes:
Laser therapy, where a dermatologist uses a laser to target the psoriasis with a strong dose of light, without touching surrounding skin. It is effective for small, stubborn patches of psoriasis, such as on the scalp, feet, or hands.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) light therapy is where a patient stands in a light box or in front of a light panel. If the psoriasis responds, about 24 treatments over a two-month period usually clears the psoriasis. Although UVB is safe and effective, it does have possible side effects. These include burns, freckling, and premature skin aging.
Dermatologists prescribe PUVA when psoriasis does not respond to other treatments. This treatment combines a medication called "psoralen" with UVA light therapy. Research shows that PUVA is effective in about 85 percent of cases.
Under a dermatologist's care, light therapy can provide safe and effective treatment for many patients with psoriasis. Because too much ultraviolet (UV) light can make psoriasis worse, it is important to see a dermatologist for treatment. Never try to self-treat by using a tanning bed or sunbathing.
Topical medicines applied to the skin to treat mild to moderate psoriasis. Corticosteroids (cortisone), Anthralin, Retinoids (vitamin A Preparations), and coal tar.
Corticosteroids are the most frequently prescribed medication for treating mild to moderate psoriasis. They are available as a cream, ointment, gel, foam, spray, and lotion.
Systemic medicines to treat moderate to severe psoriasis include: Methotrexate, Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), and Cyclosporine.
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