Psoriasis Home > Psoriasis Medication

Calcineurin Inhibitors 
Calcineurin inhibitors are applied to the skin to treat psoriasis. They are often used to treat psoriasis on the face and in skin folds, such as the armpits or under the breasts. These medicines include pimecrolimus (Elidel®) and tacrolimus (Protopic®) creams.
Coal Tar
Preparations containing coal tar (gels and ointments) may be applied directly to the skin, added as a liquid to the bath, or used on the scalp as a shampoo. Coal tar products are available in different strengths, and many are sold over-the-counter.
Coal tar is less effective than corticosteroids and many other psoriasis treatments and, therefore, is sometimes combined with ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy for a better result. The most potent form of coal tar may irritate the skin, is messy, has a strong odor, and may stain the skin or clothing. Thus, it is not popular with many people.
Anthralin reduces the increase in skin cells and inflammation. Healthcare providers sometimes prescribe a 15- to 30-minute application of anthralin ointment, cream, or paste once each day to treat chronic psoriasis lesions. Afterward, anthralin must be washed off the skin to prevent irritation.
This psoriasis treatment often fails to adequately improve the skin, and it stains skin, bathtubs, sinks, and clothing brown or purple. In addition, the risk of skin irritation makes anthralin unsuitable for acute or actively inflamed eruptions.
Salicylic Acid
This peeling agent, which is available in many forms, such as ointments, creams, gels, and shampoos, can be applied to reduce scaling of the skin or scalp. Often, this type of psoriasis treatment is more effective when combined with topical corticosteroids, anthralin, or coal tar.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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