Sunday, December 18, 2011

UV Light Therapy For Psoriasis – Natural vs Artificial Light

For many patients with psoriasis, one of the best treatments for psoriasis lesions has been found to be ultraviolet (uv) light found in the sun's rays. Why uv light therapy for psoriasis works on psoriasis lesions is still a mystery. Patients can either use natural light or artificial light to treat the symptoms of psoriasis.

Ultraviolet Light

There are three forms of ultraviolet light found in the sun's rays and they are UVC which are usually blocked by the ozone layer for the most part and have no benefit for uv light therapy for psoriasis.

UVB rays are responsible for tanning skin and cannot pass through glass. These rays are also longer than UVC which are the shortest of all ultraviolet rays. UVB rays have been identified as being effective when used in uv light therapy for psoriasis.

UVA rays are the longest and can tan the skin and these rays are commonly used in tanning salons. While they are also used in uv light therapy for psoriasis, they are ineffective when they are used on their own. When combined with a drug, UVA is very effective for psoriasis treatment.

Natural Sunlight

It may seem like the most natural thing to do to simply go out into the sun if you are seeking relief from psoriasis symptoms. Like any other treatment for psoriasis, it can be effective for some people but also ineffective for others. When effective, remissions from the symptoms can last for a few weeks but again this can vary from one person to another.

Before using natural sunlight in uv light therapy for psoriasis, it is important to consult your dermatologist in order for him or her to determine your skin type. Your skin type will usually determine how effective phototherapy will be for you and a dermatologist has tools that will effectively test your skin.

Skin type and therefore sun sensitivity is affected by various factors besides skin color such as any medications you may be taking so it is important to tell your doctor about any medications you are be taking so that there is a proper skin analysis and determination of your skin's photosensitivity.

When using natural sunlight for uv light therapy for psoriasis, it is important to stick to a schedule and be persistent as it may take some time before you notice any benefits. It is also important to be cautious to prevent overexposure. Your doctor may suggest how long you may sunbathe to prevent overexposure leading to severe sunburns. Do wear sunscreen and protective sunglasses that can block uva and uvb rays on areas that are free from psoriasis lesions. Also stay out of the midday sun which is at its strongest and most dangerous at this time.

As with anyone who spends time in sunlight, it increases the risk over the long term of premature aging of the skin, freckles and in more serious cases skin cancer so it is important to have the skin evaluated by a doctor periodically when using uv light therapy for psoriasis treatment. If you notice any suspicious skin changes, notify your doctor immediately and stay out of the sun.
Artificial Light

This can be administered in a doctor's office or in the comfort of the home with the purchase of UVB home units. UVB light fixtures that give off artificial light have been found to be very effective for many but not all psoriasis sufferers.

A prescription is necessary if a sufferer is considering a home unit to use for uv light therapy for psoriasis. The cost for these home units varies from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Heath insurance may be able to cover the cost for these home units.

UVB home therapy will work great if you live far away from your doctor's office, if you are pregnant, if the patient is a child and if there is only so much that health insurance can cover in terms of doctor's office visits.

Whether used at home or in a doctor's office, these units can lead to a vast improvement in psoriasis symptoms and clear lesions quickly. Treatment can be stopped when lesions clear up but many patients adopt a maintenance regimen which requires several treatments each month to prolong the remission of psoriasis lesions.

With UVB units whether used at home or in a doctor's office, protective wraparound glasses are important as well as applying sunscreen to areas that are very sensitive to ultraviolet light such as the face and the back of the hands. Other precautions to take include covering the genitals for male patients. Also, only the patient should use the unit.

Some UVB units found in a dermatologist's office may be able to clear skin faster while preventing burning as well as lowering the risk of skin cancer. Just like sunlight, artificial light can also increase the risk of premature aging, developing freckles as well skin cancer so skin monitoring is important.

This is only some information on uv light therapy for psoriasis using natural sunlight or artificial light to clear psoriasis lesions. Some patients may choose one over the other or use a combination of both for treatment. Using artificial light may be more beneficial as it is administered in a controlled setting but nonetheless, any form of light therapy is definitely beneficial for many psoriasis sufferers. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Common Systemic Drugs Prescribed For the Treatment Of Psoriasis

While there is no psoriasis cure, there are many treatment therapies that can help to alleviate the various symptoms of psoriasis or prevent flare-ups. Many treatment methods include home remedies for psoriasis, implementing a psoriasis diet, light therapy for psoriasis, homeopathy, acupuncture for psoriasis, topical treatments, etc. Taking medications internally is known as systematic therapy. Systemic therapy is usually suggested in cases of moderate to severe psoriasis.

As is common with many psoriasis treatments, what works for one patient will not necessarily work for another. This does not mean that a patient should give up on finding treatment that works for him or her. It just means that their search for a treatment regimen that works will take a little longer and they will have to try various combinations of home remedies for psoriasis, light therapy for psoriasis, acupuncture, herbs, topical creams and gels and so forth.

The following are common systemic medications that are used for the treatment of psoriasis. While they may be great at clearing up psoriasis flare-ups, they may also lead to very unpleasant side effects so talk to your doctor before, during and after use.

1. Methotrexate

Psoriasis results from the abnormal turnover of skin cells. Methothrexate has provided relief for many psoriasis sufferers by interfering with this rapid skin regeneration otherwise known as being an antimetabolite.

Methotrexate is great as a systemic treatment option for moderate to severe psoriasis as well as the painful psoriatic psoriasis in addition to other types of psoriasis such as pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis and severe plaque psoriasis.

This drug is usually taken in pill form or an injection is administered to the patient and a doctor may tell you to only take it once a week. Follow-up while on this medication is necessary to monitor the patient's reaction to the drug.

Side effects: May include loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, etc.

2. Cyclosporine

When topical medications, light therapy for psoriasis or even home remedies for psoriasis fail as well as many other treatments for psoriasis, Cyclosporine is usually recommended for those with moderate to severe resistant plaque type psoriasis.

Cyclosporine works by suppressing an aspect of the immune system that is responsible for psoriasis flare-ups and works very rapidly when compared to other systemic medications such as methrotrexate and retinoids. Relief usually begins to be noticed during the first four to eight weeks. It is usually administered to patients in pill form once a day. When treatment is discontinued, psoriasis symptoms will usually return.

Side effects: Cyclosporine should be discontinued after a year because it can lead to permanent kidney damage. This drug may also increase the risk of cancer, lead to high blood pressure, excessive hair growth, nausea, diarrhea, tremor, etc.

3. Oral Retinoids

These are synthetic drugs that are derived from vitamin A and its product, vitamin A acid which are very beneficial for skin. One of the common drugs derived from vitamin A is isotretinoin or Accutane which is used for the treatment of severe acne. Acitretin or Soriatane is another oral retinoid that is derived from vitamin A and is used to treat severe forms of psoriasis.

These derivatives of vitamin A directly affect the differentiation and growth of skin cells which is why they are great treatment options for severe cases of skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. Soriatane and Accutane can both be used to clear psoriasis. These drugs can also work better when used in combination with uv light therapy for psoriasis.

When using Soriatane, it may take several weeks or months to see any results but the results may last for up to a year. The condition may get worse before it gets better after starting treatment. Soriatane works by slowing the rapid skin regeneration associated with psoriasis and helps to reduce the redness, thickness and scaling that may be noticed. Accutane may help with this as well. A daily dose should be taken with meals.

Side effects: Birth defects are commonly associated with oral retinoids so pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant are discouraged from taking these oral retinoids. Other side effects include inflammation of the pancreas, increased fats in the blood, uv light sensitivity and burns, etc.

There are many other drugs that can be prescribed for systemic treatment of psoriasis. Due to the cost and potential side effects that may be permanent, it is important to try other treatment therapies first such as acupuncture, home remedies for psoriasis, topical treatments, following a psoriasis diet, light therapy for psoriasis, etc.