Conventional and Alternative Treatments for Psoriasis


Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, causing unsightly spots and discomfort for sufferers. Fortunately, plenty of treatments exist for the condition. Patients can choose from medical treatments in three main categories, along with natural treatments. These options are described below.

Topical Treatments

Topical psoriasis treatments are divided into anti-inflammatories, DNA normalizers, and substances that reduce scaling and enhance healing. Corticosteroids are often a first line of treatment for patients with mild to moderate psoriasis and are normally used for short-term treatment in case of outbreaks. Vitamin D analogs decrease symptoms by reducing the growth rate of skin cells. Retinoids are utilized for their anti-inflammatory effects and ability to normalize skin DNA. Anthralin, another substance used to normalize DNA activity, is often used in combination with ultraviolet light therapy. Finally, many patients reduce scaling and promote healing with salicylic acid and moisturizers.

Systemic Treatments

Systemic treatments include immunosuppressant drugs, retinoids, biologics and others. Immunosuppressants include cyclosporine and methotrexate, which not only decrease the abnormal immune activity behind psoriasis but also reduce the rate of skin cell production and lower inflammation. Retinoids are effective for many patients, but they are very strong and can cause many side effects. In addition, the beneficial effects of retinoids cease when patients discontinue their use. Hydroxyurea is a systemic treatment that is combined with light therapy for best results. Biologics, such as infliximab, ustekinumab, and alefacept, are reserved for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. Doctors administer biologic drugs by injection and normally test patients for health problems, such as tuberculosis, before use because biologics can have serious effects on the immune system.

Light Therapy

All-natural sunlight is a powerful psoriasis treatment that works thanks to the fact that ultraviolet light reduces skin cell production and decreases scaling and inflammation. UVB and narrowband UVB treatments target specific areas but can cause severe dryness, irritation, and even burns. Some light therapies, such as Goeckerman therapy and photochemotherapy, combine light therapy with certain medications. Excimer and pulsed dye lasers are targeted treatments that require only a few sessions but can cause blistering and bruising in the short term and scarring in the long run.

Natural Treatments

Many patients have success using natural therapies for psoriasis. Neem and virgin coconut oils are two common topical psoriasis treatments. Some patients rely on aloe vera for relief from skin irritation and dryness. Others reduce their symptoms with dietary improvements and probiotics.


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