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Are topical treatments used to treat plaque psoriasis?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine

Plaque psoriasis is often treated using topical therapies. These topical medications are often the first therapies used and are applied to the skin. Topical ointments, lotions, shampoos and creams reduce inflammation with plaque psoriasis and slow down the excessive reproduction of skin cells.  Some topical treatments are available over the counter while others need a doctor's prescription.

Oftentimes corticosteroids (steroids) are used in topical creams for psoriasis.  Because steroids have an anti-inflammatory effect, these creams calm the inflammation and redness of the rough, raised lesions.  Salicylic acid and coal tar are both used in topical formulations and are approved by the FDA for the use with psoriasis.

Other substances that come in topical form are used to add moisture to the skin, soothe the roughness and removes scales. These therapies have ingredients such as aloe vera, jojoba, zinc pyrithione and capsaicin. Prescription topical medications may include ingredients such as anthralin, synthetic vitamin D3, and vitamin A.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.