There is currently no method of curing psoriasis permanently, but treatment can bring about the complete or nearly complete remission of skin lesions.
Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects more than 7.5 million adults in the United States. Experts consider it an immune-mediated disease, which means that it is related to a dysfunction in the immune system that causes inflammation. However, they do not fully understand what causes it.
Treatments focus on reducing systemic inflammation and addressing physical manifestations, such as skin lesions. With effective treatment, a person living with psoriasis can almost fully manage their symptoms, achieving remission.
Remission is a state in which a [person experiences little-to-no symptoms for a period of time.
This article reviews where psoriasis treatment currently stands and looks at what the future may hold for treating the condition.
Experts have not yet found a cure for psoriasis. However, available treatments can often significantly reduce psoriasis symptoms.
Doctors use several treatments to treat psoriasis. The variety of available treatments gives doctors various options and allows them to individualize treatment plans and change medications as necessary. This flexibility is important because not everyone will respond the same way to treatment.
Some potential treatments that doctors may offer include:
- Topical: Topical treatments include creams, ointments, lotions, and other products that a person applies directly to their skin. They can help reduce the appearance of plaques and minimize discomfort. Doctors typically use them to treat mild cases of psoriasis.
- Phototherapy: Phototherapy involves using light exposure under medical supervision to treat psoriasis plaques.
- Systemic medications: These options treat widespread inflammation throughout the body and include biologics and small-molecule medications. Other systemic medications include methotrexate, acitretin, Otezla, JAK inhibitors, and cyclosporine. Doctors usually prescribe them for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis.
- Complementary therapies: This term refers to a diverse group of therapies, including acupuncture and supplements. These options can help alleviate psoriasis symptoms, but doctors do not currently consider them a part of conventional Western medicine.
A person’s treatment plan may include one or more medications and therapies to address their symptoms and inflammation. A person should talk with their prescribing doctor if they do not achieve favorable results with their current treatment. It might be that other treatment options provide better results.
In 2016, the National Psoriasis Foundation provided the first psoriasis treatment targets for the United States. The goal of these targets is to help more people living with psoriasis achieve clear skin.
The treatment targets are:
- Within 3 months of starting a new treatment, psoriasis should affect less than 1% of a person’s body surface area (BSA).
- If treatment provides some improvement but does not reduce psoriasis to less than 1% BSA within 3 months, a doctor may take a “wait-and-see” approach.
- An acceptable response to treatment involves a BSA of 3% or less or a 75% reduction in BSA within 3 months of starting a new treatment.
- After 3 months, a person and their doctor may decide to stick with the same treatment or try a different approach if their symptoms do not meet the criteria for an acceptable response.
- At this point, possible treatment changes include altering the dosage of the existing medication or switching to a new therapy altogether.
- Following successful treatment, a doctor should regularly check in with the person every 6 months.
Researchers are continually seeking to improve the quality and quantity of treatments that they can use to treat psoriasis and improve the quality of life for people with the condition.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, researchers are examining several new treatment options for psoriasis, including the following.
New topical treatments
Biologics are a type of therapy made of living cells from animals and other organisms. Doctors consider them a type of systemic treatment because they treat not only the skin but also widespread inflammation in the body.
Biologics can block protein receptors on immune cells, which helps prevent or reduce inflammation. These drugs can also block cytokines involved in inflammation processes, such as IL-23. They can come in the form of infusions or injections.
Many biologics currently have approval to treat psoriasis. New biologics are also under investigation including bimekizuma. Research suggests that this biologic is generally safe and effective and may also have the potential to treat psoriatic arthritis.
In a 2022 study, researchers looked at real-world data for another type of biologic called brodalumab. They found that the use of brodalumab was safe in most people and generally effective, even in individuals who previously had not responded to other biologics.
The study authors concluded that a Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score of 2 or less might be possible with brodalumab. Typically, a PASI score of 5–10 represents moderate psoriasis, while more than 10 indicates a severe case.
If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves these new biologics for treating psoriasis, they will give doctors new options to try if other medications are not working.
Another new medication for treating psoriasis is known as deucravacitinib. This drug is a type of tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor, and it works similarly to biologics, blocking off a key molecule involved in psoriasis.
Unlike biologics, a person can take TYK2 inhibitors orally as a pill.
TYK2 inhibitors are a type of Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, a few of which are approved treatments for other chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Deucravacitinib is generally
No one knows for certain whether a psoriasis cure will ever be available. However, experts appear hopeful.
With current available treatments, a person in remission can go years without a relapse in symptoms. However, most remissions last 1–12 months. After remission, psoriasis may come back, and it may be worse than before.
Still, future treatment advances may eventually effectively keep psoriasis in more permanently manageable state or even cure it.
Below are frequently asked questions regarding psoriasis treatment.
What clears psoriasis fast?
Topical treatments, including creams, ointments, and lotions, are often the first-line treatment for mild psoriasis but typically take weeks to months to start working. The best way to clear psoriasis is to work with a doctor to create an individualized treatment plan and follow it closely.
What is the root cause of psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease. This means it relates to an immune system dysfunction leading to inflammation. Doctors do not fully understand the root cause of psoriasis, but genetics may play a role – people who have a direct relative with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing it.
What lifestyle changes can improve psoriasis symptoms?
Smoking tobacco is a known psoriasis trigger, so if a person does smoke, quitting may improve symptoms. Maintaining a moderate weight can also help reduce a person’s psoriasis flare-up rate and severity.
What foods should psoriasis patients limit?
Red meat, saturated fats, sugars, and alcohol can all worsen psoriasis symptoms. Avoiding these items may help reduce the severity and frequency of psoriasis. However, this can vary between people. Keeping a food diary can help identify a person’s specific psoriasis triggers.
There is currently no cure for psoriasis. However, the available treatment options can help reduce the impact of psoriasis. In many cases, these options can allow a person to achieve remission.
There are several psoriasis treatments to choose from, including topicals, phototherapy, and systemic medications. As scientists develop even more treatments, doctors will have additional ways to treat a person’s condition should they stop responding to the current treatment options.
Researchers continue to develop a better understanding of psoriasis, which may mean that a cure for psoriasis is available in the future.