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Topical treatments:

Psoriasis is commonly treated with emollients to soften the skin. other common treatments are preparations containing coal tar or a substance called anthralin, which reduce inflammation and scaling. coal tar and anthralin are effective but have an unpleasant smell and can stain clothing and bed linen. anthralin should be applied to affected areas only, because it can irritate healthy skin.

Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe a topical preparation containing the vitamin d derivative calcipotriol. the preparation is usually applied twice a day. it has no smell, does not stain skin or clothes, and is normally effective within about 4 weeks. you should follow the advice of your doctor or dermatologist because this treatment should not be used on the face or in the creases of the skin.

Topical corticosteroids may also be prescribed. however, the drugs should be used sparingly because they may cause long-term side effects, such as thinning of the skin.

Generalized treatments:

For widespread psoriasis that does not respond to topical treatments, therapeutic exposure to ultraviolet (uv) light is often effective. uv therapy is usually given without oral medications. puva therapy involves using uv therapy together with psoralen, an oral drug that is taken before the ultraviolet light treatment and helps make the skin more sensitive to the effects of light. this combined treatment slightly increases the risk of skin cancer and is given only under the supervision of a dermatologist.

regular, short doses of sunlight often help clear up psoriasis. moderate exposure of affected areas to sunlight can be beneficial during the summer months, but you should adopt sensible precautions when outside to avoid sunburn.


in very severe cases of pustular psoriasis, for which topical preparations may not be effective, treatment with oral or intravenous drugs may be recommended. the drugs used for this treatment include retinoids, methotrexate, and cyclosporin. however, both retinoids and methotrexate can cause abnormalities in a developing fetus. for this reason, you should not take either of these drugs if you are pregnant or planning to have a child.

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