Psoriasis Home > Psoriasis Medication
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and the turnover of skin cells, and they suppress the immune system. Available in different strengths, topical corticosteroids, such as cortisone, are usually applied to the skin twice a day. These medicines may be called steroids for short. They are available in creams or ointments.
Using corticosteroids for short-term psoriasis treatment is often effective in improving, but not completely eliminating, psoriasis. Long-term use or overuse of very strong corticosteroids can cause thinning of the skin, internal side effects, and resistance to the treatment's benefits.
If less than 10 percent of the skin is involved, some healthcare providers will prescribe a high-potency corticosteroid ointment. High-potency corticosteroids may also be prescribed for plaques that don't improve with other treatment, particularly those on the hands or feet.
In situations where the objective of treatment is to achieve comfort, medium-potency corticosteroids may be prescribed for the broader skin areas of the torso or limbs. Low-potency preparations are used on delicate skin areas.
This medicine is a synthetic form of vitamin D3 that can be applied to the skin. Applying calcipotriene ointment (Dovonex®) twice a day controls the speed of turnover of skin cells.
Because calcipotriene can irritate the skin, however, it is not recommended for use on the face or genitals. It is sometimes combined with topical corticosteroids to reduce irritation. Use of more than 100 grams of calcipotriene per week may raise the amount of calcium in the body to unhealthy levels.
Tazarotene (Tazorac®) is a synthetic form of vitamin A. It is available as a gel or cream that is applied to the skin. If used alone, this preparation does not act as quickly as topical corticosteroids, but it does not cause thinning of the skin or other side effects associated with steroids.
However, it can irritate the skin, particularly in skin folds and the normal skin surrounding a patch of psoriasis. It is less irritating and sometimes more effective when combined with a corticosteroid. Because of the risk of birth defects, women of childbearing age must take measures to prevent pregnancy when using tazarotene to treat psoriasis.