Psoriasis treatment

Psoriasis is a chronic, scaly rash that affects people of all ages. It is common, affecting about 2% of the population. It is influenced by genetics and environmental factors. It is not contagious. The condition can be very socially disabling, and commonly leads to depression. It can also be associated with other internal health problems, including psoriatic arthritis.

 

Whilst there is no cure for psoriasis, recent advances in treatment mean that the great majority of cases can be well controlled.

Treatments available include:

 

  • Topical agents: These include emollients (sometimes with additives like tar and salicylic acid), and prescription treatments including topical corticosteroids, calcipotriol, and topical retinoids. These are usually all that is needed to control mild psoriasis, and they can be combined with treatments below for more severe psoriasis.
  • Phototherapy: This very safe treatment can clear the majority of mild and moderate cases of psoriasis. A treatment session only takes a few minutes. A course of 2-3 treatments per week for 6-10 weeks, will result in clearing or significant improvement in most. The benefit typically lasts many months. At Toowong Dermatology, the cost of phototherapy is fully covered by Medicare.
  • Systemic treatments (tablets): These include methotrexate, acitretin and cyclosporine. These prescription tablets require detailed assessment to find the most suitable, and ongoing supervision to minimise the risk of side effects.
  • Biologic injections: Science has discovered many of the biochemical and immunological pathways involved in psoriasis. This has allowed the creation of exciting new medications that can specifically target the pathways involved. These targeted treatments are not only more powerful, but generally much safer than previous treatments. However, they are very expensive. The PBS subsidises these medications for those with very severe disease who are under the care of a dermatologist, and who have met certain stringent criteria.

Dr Jason Wu, at Toowong Dermatology, is one of the most experienced dermatologists in Queensland with respect to psoriasis and new treatments for psoriasis. In addition to working at Toowong Dermatology, he runs the biologics and severe psoriasis clinic at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

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