Systemic Treatments

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Systemic Treatments

Postby Nick Balgowan » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:43 pm

Psoriasis Treatments

Systemic Treatments

Systemic treatments are medications taken internally, either as a pill or an injection. Most systemic treatments work by suppressing the immune system, which reduces the inflammation and excess cell turnover that causes lesions. Immunosuppressants can cause severe side effects but may be effective against persistent psoriasis that has not responded to milder treatments. Currently, the available drugs used to suppress inflammation include methotrexate, cyclosporine, and hydroxyurea.

Recent studies show that biologic agents, known as TNF blockers, that were originally used for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease appear to be effective against psoriasis. Biologic agents target specific proteins involved in the body’s inflammation response that may cause psoriasis symptoms. This specificity makes them less harmful than medications that weaken the entire immune system. The TNF blockers infliximab and etanercept currently are available, but many insurance plans do not cover them because of their high cost.

Antibiotics and retinoids also may be prescribed. Antibiotics do not affect psoriasis directly, but may be used when psoriasis flare-ups are triggered by bacterial infections. Retinoids are vitamin A-like compounds that can be used either externally or internally. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, avoid taking retinoids.
Nick Balgowan.
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