Creams vs. Biologics in Treating Psoriasis

Contact the psoriasis specialists at Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry. Dr. Oswald Mikell and his team can examine, di

When the life cycle of your skin cells speeds up and goes haywire, you’ve got psoriasis, and you’re one of more than 8 million Americans that suffer from the condition. There’s no cure for psoriasis, but there are many treatment options that limit the impact of outbreaks, since psoriasis tends to come and go in many patients.

Medical science doesn’t know the precise causes of psoriasis, which has many different types, but they’re all linked to immune system dysfunction, where certain components mistakenly attack normal skin cells, as though fighting an infection or healing a wound. New skin cells are quickly overproduced, and the characteristic scaly patches of psoriatic skin develop.

Conventional treatments of psoriasis

Creams of various formulations are perhaps the most common ways that psoriasis is treated. Moisturizers frequently help relieve symptoms of mild cases of the condition. To heal a more advanced psoriasis breakout, other medications are typically prescribed. These topical treatments can include:

Problems with certain topical remedies for psoriasis include skin irritation, staining, and even potential birth defects when used by women of childbearing age. Oral drugs may also be used, including oral forms of some of the topical treatments, and light therapy also shows results for many patients. 

However, only a class of medications called biologics treats psoriasis by acting on the immune system, thought to be the origin of psoriatic conditions.

How biologics treat psoriasis

The targets of biologic treatment of psoriasis are the parts of your immune system that overreact during an outbreak, shutting it down and controlling symptoms. Biologics are often used when other psoriasis remedies fail to produce results.

Biologics are derived from living cells, altered in a lab to make specific proteins. Rather than suppressing your entire immune system, these proteins block only certain functions of the system, those that cause the overproduction of skin cells.

However, these proteins are vulnerable to passage through your digestive tract. Stomach acids would break down the proteins and keep them from entering your bloodstream as an effective medicine. 

Instead, biologics are delivered via injection or through an intravenous infusion. The proteins are thus delivered to your bloodstream and can act on the targeted immune system components.

Are biologics the right choice?

Biologics aren’t usually a primary choice for treating psoriasis. However, if other treatment options haven’t produced effective results or if you’re unable to tolerate the side effects of other approaches, biologic treatments can be very effective at suppressing the symptoms of a psoriasis outbreak. If you have moderate to severe psoriasis, biologics may be the most effective treatment option.

Because your immune system is altered, biologics aren’t a good idea if you’re suffering from conditions that impair your immune system, since you could be more susceptible to infections. People who have cancer, heart failure, liver disease, or multiple sclerosis may not be candidates for biologic treatment of psoriasis.

Contact the psoriasis specialists at Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry. Dr. Oswald Mikell and his team can examine, diagnose, and treat your skin condition and can recommend biologic treatment if your condition warrants. Call the most convenient of their three locations in Hilton Head, Okatie, or Beaufort, South Carolina, to arrange your personal consultation today. 

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