The most popular treatment options for psoriasis are topical applications, like creams, lotions, and foams. These formulations are applied on the skin or scalp directly to reduce the symptoms. There are a number of options available for the treatment of psoriasis are unique to each individual who uses it. One may need to try out different options to find the one that works best.
Some of the most common topical treatments include:
- Corticosteroids – This is one of the most commonly recommended topical treatment for psoriasis and is found to be effective in treating mild to moderate forms of this skin condition. Corticosteroids prevent the accumulation of skin cells and inflammation, two characteristic features of psoriasis. Steroids of stronger potency are used in treating psoriasis for the knees and elbows, while those of reduced potency are used in sensitive areas of the skin. One needs to follow the recommendation of the doctor regarding the dosage and quantity to be applied. Steroids are associated with side effects, like changes in skin color and bruising. These medications are now used in combination with vitamin D analogs.
- Vitamin D analogs – Vitamin D analogs, like calcipotriene, can be obtained as creams, ointments, or solutions. These products are considered to be safer than steroids, but one should be careful not to apply them on the healthy skin that surrounds the plaques of psoriasis.
- Topical retinoids – These are topical medications obtained from vitamin A. Retinoids in different strengths are now available to treat different types of this condition. There are different kinds of retinoids for psoriasis in different parts of the body as well. Retinoids are also combined with corticosteroids for the treatment of psoriasis. Retinoids are not recommended for pregnant women.
- Anthralin – Obtained from the bark of araroba tree, this medication has always been considered an effective treatment for psoriasis. It prevents the growth of skin cells and also helps in reducing inflammation of the skin. It is found to be effective in hard plaques of psoriasis as well. Yet, anthralin can cause stains on the clothing and skin, at times.
- Coal tar – This is one of the earliest known treatments for psoriasis. It can be obtained in different strengths and forms. It has an potent smell and can cause stains on skin and clothing. These products are more convenient to use, when compared to others.
- Salicylic acid – They are useful in removing the scaly patches of psoriasis from different parts of the body. It is available in different forms, like gels, shampoos, soaps and lotions. Salicylic acid can also be used in combination with other topical medications.
Many of the topical medications are used in combination with other methods of treatment, like phototherapy or oral medications.