Answers to your questions about plaque psoriasis.
Q I have been itchier than usual lately and it’s been disrupting my sleep. Can you suggest a strategy that can make it easier for me?
A The key to nighttime relief is finding an effective treatment for your psoriasis — easing overall inflammation will rapidly reduce the itch. In the meantime, over-the-counter moisturizers and creams containing menthol can help soothe your itchy skin. For the best benefit, apply immediately after taking a short shower (with lukewarm water) and patting skin dry.
BIOLOGICS FOR LIFE?
Q Right now, my psoriasis seems to be well-controlled with a biologic. Will I have to continue taking the same medication as I get older?
A Because biologics can help a great deal with controlling psoriasis, most patients continue those treatments long term. If they have to be stopped for any reason, many patients stay in remission for months before experiencing a relapse. Discuss any concerns you may have about long-term use of biologics with your dermatologist. Together you can decide the best strategy for you going forward.
Q I love being outdoors and getting some sun with my family because it soothes my psoriasis. But then, when winter comes, I’m not able to go outside and get as much sunlight. How can I safely get the light my skin needs?
A Ask about Ultraviolet B phototherapy, which is available in some dermatologists’ offices. Similar to the effect of sunlight, UVB treatments help by dampening your overactive immune system, which is responsible for psoriasis flares. If you would rather do the treatment at home, home phototherapy units can be purchased with a prescription. The most common form of ultraviolet therapy is called narrowband UVB.
CLEAN WATER AND PSORIASIS
Q My friend says she noticed her skin feeling better after taking a dip in the ocean. She’s considering getting dead sea salts to add to her bath. Can ocean water really help psoriasis?
A Dead Sea salts are sold for the treatment of psoriasis, and while adding some to bathwater seems to soothe psoriasis for some, scientific data from the Dead Sea shows that it’s actually the sunlight at the Dead Sea rather than the salt water that helps clear psoriasis. Work with your doctor to fine tune a treatment plan.
OUR EXPERT: Mark G. Lebwohl, MD, professor and chairman, Kimberly and Eric J. Waldman Department of Dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York