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What is the treatment of psoriasis

Psoriasis treatment aims to make your skin feel comfortable and make you feel good about your skin. Psoriasis is both a medical disease and has a secondary psychological effect on your life. The medical treatment of psoriasis is aimed to stop the skin cells from growing too quickly and hence reduce the inflammation and red, scaly plaque formation. Psoriasis treatment aims at removing the skin cells and smoothing the skin, using the topical treatment that you can apply directly onto the psoriatic lesions.

Psoriasis treatments are three main areas:

  1. Topical treatments
  2. Light therapy
  3. Systemic medication.


Topical Psoriasis Treatment

Creams and ointments applied to the skin can very effectively help to treat mild-to-moderate psoriasis. However, when the disease is more severe, these creams are combined with oral medications or light therapy.

Topical psoriasis treatment includes:

  • topical corticosteroids,
  • vitamin D analogues,
  • Anthralin,
  • topical retinoids,
  • Calcineurin inhibitors,
  • Salicylic acid, coal tar, tar and moisturisers


Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids are often prescribed for treating mild-to-moderate psoriasis. They are a first-line treatment as they are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Once the inflammation is reduced the associated itching will be greatly relieved. There are different strengths of corticosteroids. The low potency corticosteroid ointments are usually recommended for sensitive areas like the face or in skin folds or for treating widespread patches of damaged skin.

Stronger corticosteroid creams are only used on slight areas of the skin of persistent plaques on hands or feet after other treatments have failed. There are also medicated foams and scalp solutions available to treat psoriasis patches on the scalp. Long-term use or overuse of potent corticosteroid ointments can thin the skin and reduce the treatment benefit.


Vitamin D Analogues

Vitamin D Analogues are synthetic forms of vitamin D, which slow down the growth of skin cells such as Calcipotriene (Dovonex).

It is used alone to treat mild-to-moderate psoriasis or in combination with other topical medications or phototherapy. This treatment can irritate the skin.



Anthralin is the medication believed to normalise your DNA activity of skin cells. It can help remove scale, making skin smoother; however, it can irritate the skin and can stain anything it touches including your skin, clothing, tops and bedding.

For that reason the dermatologist Dr Jennifer Crawley will often only recommend short contact treatment allowing the cream just to stay on your skin for a brief time after which you wash it off to reduce the side effects of staining of clothing and irritation of the skin.


Topical Retinoids

Topical Retinoids such as Tazarotene, was developed specifically for the treatment of psoriasis. Like another vitamin A derivative it normalises DNA activity in the skin cells and decreases inflammation.

However, it has to be used carefully because its common side effects can cause skin irritation and increase sensitivity to sunlight. Therefore it has to be used in conjunction with sunscreen applied during the day. Tazarotene is not available if you are pregnant or breast-feeding or intend to become pregnant, as it has a potential risk of causing congenital disabilities.


Calcineurin Inhibitors

Calcineurin Inhibitors have been shown to be effective at times for psoriasis, and they also disrupt the activation of those T-cells, which contribute to psoriasis and hence reduce the inflammation and plaque build-up. They are not recommended for long-term use but can be useful in areas of thin skin such as around the eyes where steroid creams and retinoids may be too irritating or cause harmful side effects.


How much does a consultation cost?

For a consultation in London at Clinica, prices range from £200-£400.

Please book a consultation for a written quote with a full breakdown of treatment costs.

Read more about our consultants.

Dr Jennifer Crawley

Consultant Dermatologist
Children & Adults

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