As is common with many psoriasis treatments, what works for one patient will not necessarily work for another. This does not mean that a patient should give up on finding treatment that works for him or her. It just means that their search for a treatment regimen that works will take a little longer and they will have to try various combinations of home remedies for psoriasis, light therapy for psoriasis, acupuncture, herbs, topical creams and gels and so forth.
The following are common systematic medications that are used for the treatment of psoriasis. While they may be great at clearing up psoriasis flare-ups, they may also lead to very unpleasant side effects so talk to your doctor before, during and after use.
Psoriasis results from the abnormal turnover of skin cells. Methothrexate has provided relief for many psoriasis sufferers by interfering with this rapid skin regeneration otherwise known as being an antimetabolite.
Methotrexate is great as a systematic treatment option for moderate to severe psoriasis as well as the painful psoriatic psoriasis in addition to other types of psoriasis such as pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis and severe plaque psoriasis.
This drug is usually taken in pill form or an injection is administered to the patient and a doctor may tell you to only take it once a week. Follow-up while on this medication is necessary to monitor the patient’s reaction to the drug.
Side effects: May include loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, etc.
When topical medications, light therapy for psoriasis or even home remedies for psoriasis fail as well as many other treatments for psoriasis, Cyclosporine is usually recommended for those with moderate to severe resistant plaque type psoriasis.
Cyclosporine works by suppressing an aspect of the immune system that is responsible for psoriasis flare-ups and works very rapidly when compared to other systematic medications such as methrotrexate and retinoids. Relief usually begins to be noticed during the first four to eight weeks. It is usually administered to patients in pill form once a day. When treatment is discontinued, psoriasis symptoms will usually return.
Side effects: Cyclosporine should be discontinued after a year because it can lead to permanent kidney damage. This drug may also increase the risk of cancer, lead to high blood pressure, excessive hair growth, nausea, diarrhea, tremor, etc.
3. Oral Retinoids
These are synthetic drugs that are derived from vitamin A and its product, vitamin A acid which are very beneficial for skin. One of the common drugs derived from vitamin A is isotretinoin or Accutane which is used for the treatment of severe acne. Acitretin or Soriatane is another oral retinoid that is derived from vitamin A and is used to treat severe forms of psoriasis.
These derivatives of vitamin A directly affect the differentiation and growth of skin cells which is why they are great treatment options for severe cases of skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. Soriatane and Accutane can both be used to clear psoriasis. These drugs can also work better when used in combination with uv light therapy for psoriasis.
When using Soriatane, it may take several weeks or months to see any results but the results may last for up to a year. The condition may get worse before it gets better after starting treatment. Soriatane works by slowing the rapid skin regeneration associated with psoriasis and helps to reduce the redness, thickness and scaling that may be noticed. Accutane may help with this as well. A daily dose should be taken with meals.
Side effects: Birth defects are commonly associated with oral retinoids so pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant are discouraged from taking these oral retinoids. Other side effects include inflammation of the pancreas, increased fats in the blood, uv light sensitivity and burns, etc.
There are many other drugs that can be prescribed for systematic treatment of psoriasis. Due to the cost and potential side effects that may be permanent, it is important to try other treatment therapies first such as acupuncture, home remedies for psoriasis, topical treatments, following a psoriasis diet, light therapy for psoriasis, etc.