There are three main treatment categories for psoriasis. Doctors typically will prescribe medications (oral, topical), Phototherapy (light therapy), or if other treatments fail to bring relief they may turn to systemic treatments.
Topical medications are applied directly to the skin’s surface. If you are going to apply moisturizer too, then you need to wait until your topical medication has dried first, before applying the moisturizer.
Most doctors have noted that their patients do well with sunlight, steroid ointments, topical medications made from vitamin D3, coal tar and also anthralin. They may also recommend to their patients to try using bath solutions and moisturizers as these provide some soothing relief.
Regular, short doses of sunlight without burning the skin can be beneficial in clearing up psoriasis. It is not recommended however for those patients that are undergoing ultraviolet light treatments or when using certain topical treatments that can react to sunlight, such as coal tar because it makes skin sensitive to the sun’s rays.
Corticosteroids such as cortisone can be applied to the skin twice a day and come in different strengths. This is usually a short-term treatment.
Coal tar can be applied directly on the skin, used in a bath, or used, as a shampoo for psoriasis on the scalp. It also is available in different strengths. If used with steroids it tends to have fewer side effects to ultraviolet light (UV). Coal tar tends to be messy and has smelly and also can stain the skin and your clothing so it is not popular with many people who have psoriasis.
Chronic psoriasis lesions are sometimes treated with anthralin ointment, cream or paste. This treatment does irritate the skin and does not always clear the lesions. It stains the skin or clothing brown or purple and is not suitable for use in acute or actively inflamed lesions.
To remove scales of psoriasis doctors often use salicylic acid in combination with topical steroids, anthralin or coal tar.
Bathing in warm water with oil and then putting a moisturizer on afterwards can usually soothe the skin. Other bath solutions include: Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, and oiled oatmeal.
Moisturizers should be applied on a regular basis especially after taking a bath or a shower. The thicker creams usually work best because they keep moisture in the skin better than lotions.
Phototherapy (light therapy) is UV light that stimulates what the sun does (stimulates production of vitamin D by the skin). This slows the overproduction of the skin cells that is a characteristic of psoriasis. UVB phototherapy is used in mild psoriasis and PUVA therapy is used in more severe cases.
Systemic Treatment is medication that is taken internally and is used for more severe forms of psoriasis, especially those where more than 10% of the body is involved in the disease. Drugs that are used in systemic treatment include: Antibiotics, hydroxyurea, methotrexate, retinoids, and TNF-Blockade.
Biologic medications (from living matter) are now approved by the FDA to be used for psoriasis and include: alefacept, and efalizumab.